You can always find some new story about the hunt for alternative power sources that involve ways to harness solar power. The SunPartner Group may not have found the single magic bullet that can get us to walk away from batteries, chargers and wall outlets for good, but they are getting various manufacturers to show interest in their idea. SunPartner is a small company in Aix-en-Provence, France, They propose a low-cost transparent panel that can use solar power to charge phones and other mobile devices. The panel is undergoing tests with a number of manufacturers.
The company said that they expect licensing agreements to follow and that the public will see the first models integrating the technology hitting the market some time in 2014. The company was founded by optician Joel Gilbert and businessman Ludovic Deblois.
SunPartner Group’s screen collects solar power and delivers it to the phone. According to reports, the module is a 300-micron-thick, solar cell module to fit under or on the touchscreen. IEEE Spectrum reported that SunPartner uses stripes of standard thin-film solar cells alternating with transparent film. It then adds a layer of tiny lenses that spread the image coming from the screen to make the opaque stripes disappear and to concentrate rays coming in from the sun
SunPartner’s Matthieu De Broca recently took part in the French Tech Tour in the U.S., to discuss the product. (The French Tech Tour is an annual program, produced by Ubifrance San Francisco. The tour supports French tech startups to drum up business in Silicon Valley.)
The solution extends the battery life about 20 percent in normal use. As an inexpensive solution for at least extending the life of a smartphone for an extra few dollars, some manufacturers see its promise.
SunPartner, set up in 2008 in Aix-en-Provence, France, has two business subsidiaries, one of which is Wysips (What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface). That is the activity pitching the solution as being able to transform surfaces into sources of solar energy production.