It sounds like a crazy idea, but Microsoft is seriously considering a solar-powered Surface Pro. A patent filed on October 2, 2018 suggests adding four or more of them to its stand.
“A cover for a mobile device includes solar panels and an integrated keyboard,” reads the abstract. “The solar panels are positioned on a stand of the cover and angle associated with the solar panels can be changed so as to maximize input from a light source. The cover can be used to supply power and keyboard input to a mobile device while in use.”
It wouldn’t be the first company to deliver a solar-powered computer, but it could be the first 2-in-1, and one with the most compact form factor. Just look at the size of the panels on the Sol and you’ll realize that this is meant to extend your wall-charged battery, not replace it entirely.
Microsoft describes two scenarios: a Surface Pro stand with integrated panels and a keyboard cover. The first sounds like the most ideal, simply because the user would be able to position the stand so the solar panels better catch the light. Either way, the patent considers integrating a separate battery that you can use for a bit of juice between charges.
The Surface Pro 7 didn’t feature many changes in design, that being left to the Pro X’s slimmer bezels. The assumption is that the Pro 8 will be a bigger leap, but what are the chances that the solar panels will be a thing?
Well, as always, a patent is no guarantee that a product will make it to market. It just indicates that Microsoft thinks the idea has enough merit to protect. With solar panels especially there could be various hurdles, such as the cost versus the benefit to the customer. Just like the wacky Surface Pen earpiece before it, we’ll have to wait and see.