It wasn't so long ago that Motorola (News - Alert) brought out its first Razr phone, and ever since, the line has been offering some steady advancement. The Droid Razr Maxx is making the rounds, and the Razr running the Jelly Bean version of Android (News - Alert) is reportedly set to start making landfall on at least some store shelves within the next month, with some users said to be already seeing updates. But there are some who are wondering about a particular new feature that hasn't made its way to many production models yet, but may in the future to come.
Back in 2007, there were reports of Motorola receiving a patent for a technology that would allow the company to offer cell phones that could recharge themselves thanks to solar cells actually built directly into the phone. At the time, many looked at the patent and suggested that this could indeed be a very big deal. Charging a cell phone then was like charging a smartphone now, a process that involved a lot of extra cables and some tedious plugging.
With Motorola's patent, some believed that the days of plugging in a series of cables was over, and that recharging a phone would soon be as easy as leaving it exposed to daylight. While it would require some changes in the way people used their smartphones--instead of slipping them into a pocket or purse, users would instead have to carry them or leave them in transparent, outward-facing pockets to take advantage of daylight--it would also remove the need for car chargers and the like.
But nearly six years after the Motorola patent originally came to light, smartphones--even the Razr line--charge with cables. But that solar potential hasn't been completely forgotten, either, as several different auxiliary devices have come available in the last few years that allow users to charge a phone not directly from the sun, but rather from an auxiliary unit that is, in turn, powered by the sun. A search for "solar powered phone charger" on Amazon.com (News - Alert) reveals over 1,000 entries, with names like Opteka, ReVIVE, and EnerPlex, among a host of others, offering up such products for use. Some devices are even billed as "emergency tools," built into radios and flashlights and the like complete with hand-cranking power backup systems.
While we may not see the next Razr, or even the Razr after that, take advantage of the sun to power itself, we may well be approaching--or even are currently in already--a point where more users take advantage of solar power to run systems like smartphones. It's not out of line, certainly--the technology is already quite available to take advantage of all that power just sort of falling onto the planet--but it just requires a little adjustment in thinking to learn to plug in a device to a charger sitting on the sunny windowsill rather than into the wall outlet.
Edited by Brooke Neuman