LG has revealed the working prototype of an accessory that can power an electronic book reader - in that particular case a model from Sony - using nothing more than solar power or ambient light.
The photovoltaic cell is affixed on the left hand side of the opened "book" with the ebook reader being on the right hand side. At 0.7mm thick and with a surface area of 100 square centimeters, it only adds a few grams to the weight of a device.
The Korean Chaebol claims that every minute of exposure to sunlight will extend the battery life by up to six minutes, which would make it the perfect accessory to carry on the beach where sunlight is plenty and time to read abundant. Now if it worked by induction or could be inserted somehow in the screen of the reader, it would have been a geek's ideal gadget.
Ki Yong Kim, head of the solar cell office at LG Display, said in a statement that “Ebooks are attracting a lot of attention because they offer the advantage of storing thousands of books’ worth of contents in an easy-to-carry device".
Don't expect it to be available soon though. Mass production is tabled for at least 2012 as the efficiency of the solar panel needs to be improved to 14 percent before it makes commercial sense to produce them.
It is not known whether the device will be rolled out for most ebooks on the market with a standardised power plug (microUSB in most cases). If that is the case, then this charger could potentially be used to charge other gadgets as well.