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Apple patent application  (Source: Apple Insider)

Apple patent application  (Source: Apple Insider)
Apple is looking to create, lighter, more efficient devices using fuel cells

Apple is interested in making fuel cell-powered mobile devices, according to Apple patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

According to two published Apple patent applications, called "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device" and "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device," Apple is looking to build lighter and smaller mobile devices like MacBooks (Air, Pro) by replacing current batteries with a fuel cell system.

This may not come as a surprise to many, since Apple has filed other patent applications for lighter hydrogen fuel cells. Those patents, which were brought to light this past October, described a building process where multiple fuel cells are connected by a power bus in a parallel pattern, and a voltage-multiplying circuit is added for additional voltage to the stack.

Now, Apple hopes to utilize these lighter, more efficient fuel cells in its mobile products in an effort to promote renewable energy sources and offer devices with the ability to run for days or even weeks without refueling, according to the patent applications. The devices will also be lighter and less bulky due to the lack of traditional batteries.

The first patent application, "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device," states Apple's case for wanting to use fuel cell technology in their devices. While current fuel cell technology for mobile products requires the user to carry a fuel cartridge for recharging purposes, Apple wants to integrate fuel cells right into their electronics.

The second patent application, "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device," describes how the fuel cell system would work with a rechargeable battery where one would power the other when necessary, and vice versa.

"This eliminates the need for a bulky and heavy battery within the fuel system, which can significantly reduce the size, weight, and cost of the fuel system," said the second patent application. "This fuel system includes a fuel stack cell which converts fuel into electrical power. It also includes a controller which controls operation of the fuel cell system."

One challenge will be creating a hydrogen fuel cell system that is cost-effective, according to Apple.

Both patents were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010.

Sources: CNET, Apple Insider

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RE: Idea?
By Tony Swash on 12/24/2011 7:12:47 AM , Rating: 0
To expand upon your later point, though.. Apple in no way cares about product differentiation it seems by their actions.. Honestly, I don't own a smartphone -- I still talk to people with my mouth rather than my thumbs, and honestly don't see the need to be 'connected' when I can get away from my desk.. But from what I know of Android users -- the last thing they want to do is be confused for an iPhone user, that is.. at least if they based their purchase off of Android-fanboy sentiments rather than choosing a product that fits their needs and demands.

I find it hard to believe you really think that given a cursory examination of the relatively recent history (post Jobs return) of Apple product development. Leaving aside phones and tablets for a moment I think that Apple's attempt at product differentiation in the world of desktop PCs and laptops was both striking and successful as they painstakingly rebuilt the Apple brand and turned it into one of the top brands on the planet. An important part of that was product differentiation. As example consider that generally speaking it has been true for most of the last decade that if one were to assemble all the top selling PCs and laptops from all the major companies in a show room and cover up the identifying brand labels and logos and asked an average cross section of typical computer customers to identify which one's came from Dell, Apple etc, that most people would be able to identify the Apple products but few could identify all the new non-Apple brands successfully.

Of course product differentiation goes deeper than appearance as Apple is pretty much the only large producer of information technology devices that combines hardware and software into an integrated whole. Which is why the have been so successful in the post PC device market and why others are either copying that approach (Googlerola, Amazon's forked Android Fire OS) or will (Micronokia).

With tablets and phones there are much greater physical limitations on the cues that a single small device can give to indicate it's identity which is why it is the arena where Apple's competitors have been most active and successful at making look alike devices and where Apple is most keen to defend it's new IP. In the post PC market Apple has quickly established the two most recognisable brands. If one asked a cross section of the public to name a specific smart phone or a specific tablet then iPhone and iPad would easily be the most named, by a large amount.

Apple's business plan is simple. Focus on designing and building only a few products. Make those product as good as can be, the best of class if possible. Make them function and look and feel distinctively Apple like. Make the customer experience of the product and the company (hence the retail stores) as good as possible. Run the tightest and best managed supply chain in the business. Watch the cash pile up. Sounds simple but no other company does that.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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