Apple to build new manufacturing facility in Arizona with solar-power, will create 2000+ jobs

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The State of Arizona today announced that Apple is planning to build a new manufacturing facility in the city of Mesa, Arizona. The facility will create 700 jobs for manufacturing, and an additional 1,300 jobs for the construction and management of the new facility, In total, Apple will be bringing at least 2,000 new jobs to the United States thanks to this new facility.

In addition to the manufacturing facility, Apple will be constructing a new solar power grid in the city to power the manufacturing operations, according to Arizona’s announcement:

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Apple looking to hire engineers with solar experience to work on mobile devices

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Update: Apple has removed the job listing from its website, but we grabbed a screenshot below.

Apple appears to be investigating the use of thin film solar technology for future mobile products with a new job listing on the company’s website looking to hire an engineer with experience in the solar industry. The thin films engineer would join Apple’s Mobile Devices group and “assist in the development and refinement of thin films technologies applicable to electronic systems.” The job listing adds some proof to rumors in recent years that Apple was evaluating the use of solar panels for future products.

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Apple plans 137-acre, 20 Megawatt solar array adjacent to its new Reno data center in partnership with NV Energy

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According to a new report from GigaOM, Apple is planning to build a new solar panel farm in Reno, Nevada in conjunction with NV Energy. Reno is also where Apple’s latest data center is located. The company already has two similar-sized solar farms in North Carolina to power its data center there, but this is the company’s first in Nevada.

The solar farm, dubbed  “Ft. Churchill Solar Array,” will be able to proved between 18 to 20 MW in power, which is about the same as its plants in North Carolina, which both put out 20 MW in size. With this solar farm, however, Apple will be utilizing a new technology that includes both solar panels and mirrors that focus the sun’s rays up to seven times onto the panels.  Read more

Here’s all of the public information on Apple’s watchmaking activity

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Since the old iWatch rumor reared its head again in December, there have been a few more reliable sources adding weight to the idea that we could see a smart watch from Apple this year. Over the weekend, The New York Times, which said essentially the same thing in 2011, followed up the rumors with a report that Apple is working on a curved glass watch prototype running iOS. The Wall Street Journal quickly followed with more information, claiming Apple and partner Foxconn are now testing wearable, watch-like devices.

While many have speculated what Apple might include in an iWatch, such as Apple employee #66 and founder of Apple’s Human Interface Group Bruce Tognazzini, all we get from reports is “curved glass” and “iOS”. Apple has clearly been testing wearable prototypes with several patents dating as far back as 2009, describing potential integration with wristwatches and iOS devices. By taking a look at the technology for watches that Apple is already experimenting with through the many publicly available patents, we put together a list of some of the features the company could very well include in an Apple-branded smart watch. Read more

Mobius rechargeable solar battery case for iPhone available now

Let’s not pretend that Apple isn’t thinking about Solar charging its iOS devices.  It even registered iPodsolar.com in 2007.  Until the solar iPod is released, however, there are other ways to charge your iOS device from the sun.

Etón today announced the availability of their Mobius NSP300B Rechargeable Battery Case for iPhone 4, which was originally announced this year at CES.

The admittedly stylish (for having a solar panel strapped to it, that is) case packs in an 1800 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery, high-efficiency monocrystal solar panel, and micro USB to charge the battery on cloudy days and nights. Other features include LED charge indicator lights and a stand by switch to turn off direct power transfer. In other words, hitting the stand by switch will let you to collect power without using it, allowing you to control when the case is actually powering your iPhone.

As you can see from the chart below, Etón estimates approximately 1 hour of solar charge will provide you with up to an additional 25 minutes talk time, 20 minutes of data usage (3G), 35 minutes of video playback, or 145 minutes of audio playback. In comparison, a fully charged case will provide you with an additional 5 hours talk time, 8 hours data usage and video playback, and 32 hours audio playback.

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Apple granted patents related to solar, multi-touch, and iOS devices

Apple has won 16 new patents published by the the US Patent and Trademark Office today (via PatentlyApple) that cover everything from possible methods of charging future Apple products via solar power, to key multi-touch technology and iOS camera related patents. Certainly more fuel for the ongoing patent wars between Apple and the rest of the smartphone industry.

We already know Apple is experimenting with solar power from past patents, even going as far as considering which company would produce panels for future products. We also heard reports in March of a superthin solar panel layer from French company Wysips that could be rolling out to handset manufactures within a year. Today one of the 16 newly granted patents gets us a step closer by detailing “methods and apparatuses for operating devices with solar power”.

PatentlyApple explains:

“a solar power tracking apparatus includes, but is not limited to, a voltage converter and a controller coupled to the voltage converter. The voltage converter includes an input capable of being coupled to a solar power source and an output capable of being coupled to an electronic load, such as, for example, a portable electronic device. The voltage converter is configured to monitor or detect an amount of power drawn by the electronic load at the output of the voltage converter. In response to the monitored power drawn, the controller is configured to control the voltage converter to reduce amount of power to be drawn subsequently if the monitored amount of power exceeds a predetermined threshold. As a result, the output voltage from the solar power source is maintained within a predetermined range.”

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Apple Patents: iPhone antenna clip, fingerprint reducing display coating, and solar power

A few more interesting Apple Inc-filed patents have surfaced today (via Patently Apple) as part of the many applications published by the US Patent & Trademark Office recently. Perhaps the most notable include a design for an iPhone antenna clip, new finger reducing oil resistant coating, and a patent describing using solar energy as an alternate power source in portable devices (something we know Apple has been researching from patents and other sources in the past).

One of the more interesting patents with technology that could (and probably should) make its way to iOS devices in the near future is a the method of reducing “finger oils on touch surfaces”. The patent describes Apple’s method of “Direct Liquid Vaporization for Oleophobic Coatings”. Fingerprints have seem to become less of an issue to iPhone users over the years, but are definitely still a major annoyance to users in less than desirable lighting conditions.

From the report:

Apple states that to prevent the deposition of oils on an electronic device surface, an oleophobic ingredient could be bonded to the electronic device surface. The oleophobic ingredient could be provided as part of a raw liquid material in one or more concentrations. To avoid adverse reactions due to exposure to air, heat, or humidity, the raw liquid material can be placed in a bottle purged with an inert gas during the manufacturing process.

The image below shows what appears to be an antenna attached to a small device’s housing via an “attachment member”. Patently Apple reports Apple states the antenna invention could be used in “their iPod family (MP3 players), a radio, an audio/video recorder, a mobile telephone, personal digital assistant, tablet computing device, or other similar device”. They also speculate from the “exploded view above that it might even be an “iPhone-nano-like device”.
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