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Apple Is Serious About This Future Killer Feature

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When I sat down to ponder possible killer features for the next wave of smartphones, one idea would make bulky batteries a thing of the past. "Why doesn't your regular old LCD screen double as a solar-powered charger? That technology has been around since 2007," I mused. "There's no reason your phone couldn't get a power boost every time you do the Macarena, like that wristwatch you haven't worn since 2005."

And you know what? Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is actually working on exactly this.

Apple Insider ran across a patent filing from Cupertino where the inventor describes a "shake to charge" apparatus for mobile electronics. By shaking a small magnet (or several) across one or more copper coils on a printed circuit board, the system would generate electric energy.

The patent application doesn't explore how much power might be produced this way, or whether it's enough to keep your smartphone charged throughout a day of average physical activity, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Depending on the power efficiency of the final product, this could be a bigger game-changer than the inductive charging solution that Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) just introduced. If walking to your commuter train with the phone in your pocket is all you need to keep the gadget functional all day long, it seems almost silly to even set up a wireless charging station.

The battery is typically the largest component inside today's smartphones, with only the screen claiming a comparable chunk of three-dimensional real estate. Just imaging how thin the next iPhone might be if the battery was half the size, relieved by an innovative extra-charging solution like this one. At some point, we'll be able to slice tomatoes or shave with the edge of the case.

I'll leave it up to you to decide whether that's a good thing or not. But it's obvious that today's amazing smartphones still have a long way to go before reaching absolute perfection. Apple is going to need to stay vigilant and adjust its designs to meet consumers' needs. In our latest premium research report, our analysts have dissected the tech giant from every angle, giving you the opportunities and risks that Apple faces. For less than a week's worth of coffee you too can gain an investing edge. Click here to get this premium report on Apple.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 22, 2012, at 12:39 PM, JaanS wrote:

    Can't get any thiner. Needs to support the new lightening connection.

  • Report this Comment On September 22, 2012, at 1:01 PM, thethreestooges wrote:

    I thought you were going to write some technical article on future killer feature. You are not really technical at all are you? Oh yeah, APPLE is going to put more future killer technology here, buy more APPLE phones.....Oh, please tell us something that you really know about this technology. Are you a physicist, solar expert, or vibration energy expert perhaps. I guess, nada!

  • Report this Comment On September 22, 2012, at 2:03 PM, zrsio4 wrote:

    That technology has been used to power high end Seiko watches for at least 15 years. Keeping a tiny quartz time piece worn on an often moving wrist is one thing. Powering a smart phone is quite another. The motive force necessary to do it would probably necessitate wearing a small backpack charger.

  • Report this Comment On September 22, 2012, at 8:22 PM, techy46 wrote:

    If pigs could fly, so could apples.

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