Well, high efficiency solar panel startup Alta Devices says that it’s got another application for its 28 percent efficiency solar cells. It’s developing an iPad cover that the company says would completely free the iPad from needing to be plugged in, assuming the cover is in direct sunlight. Alta Devices’ gallium arsenide technology is far more expensive than conventional solar panel tech and it’ll be interesting to see where the iPad cover is priced, though at least an iPad customer is a less price sensitive customer than, say, you’re typical homeowner who tends to balk at the 20K plus cost of installing rooftop solar. Even if their utility bills come down.
I’m wondering if the cover could charge the iPad, not just run it while being used. Because that would be an interesting application for travelers who want to charge the iPad outside for later use indoors. While I see people using iPads outdoors, it’s still a device predominantly used indoors and lots of great sunlight is good for solar panels but not always great for staring at your iPad’s screen.
Alta Devices has raised $120 million since its 2007 founding and finding customers with more cash to spare, like the U.S. military, will be part of its strategy until it can figure out a way to start bringing down the cost of its high efficiency panels.