Today’s mobile devices are constantly in use, therefore battery life is problematic. Therefore researchers have investigated the affordances of solar powered mobile phones.
Sumsung developed the Samsung Crest (see full article)
and Sharp developed the Solar Hybrid phones (see full article).
These phones allowed users to charge their phones via solar power, but the panels were inserted in the back of the phones. Since users prefer not to place their phones face down, these phones were not popular. Therefore, since 2013, several sets of researchers are woking on the development of self-charging phone screens to be placed at the front of phones. Currently, they are working on ways to make transparent solar panels better and cheaper, therefore next year could be the year to finally get hold of them.
According to Lee Bell the Japanese electronics firm Kyocera showcased its 15-inch device at the Mobile World Conference (MWC) in Barcelona, explaining that the phone needs only 3 minutes of sunlight per day to charge 1 minute of call time! The built-in solar panel is called WYSIPS (What You See IS Photovoltaic Surface). Interesting to note is the way this panel fits into a cell phone along other panels (see article, Figure borrowed).
Once on the market, these panels can invisibly collect solar power on phone and computer screens and on windows. I cannot wait to get hold of such an innovative phone. Remembering to pack the charging kit is a daunting task.