In a recently discovered patent application entitled "External Light Illumination of Display Screens," Apple describes its plot to capture light—particularly that from the sun—and use it to power backlit displays. This could mean smaller, lighter, more power-efficient devices.
The patent itself is quite broad and includes artificial and natural sources of light, covers most electronics, and describes two different methods of capturing light:
First, piping light from external or internal sources to the back or edges of a display using what the filing refers to as a "manifold" or "light harness;" and second, using a reflector to capture ambient light or supplement internal lighting sources.
Of course, as with any other patent or patent application, this doesn't have to be indication that we'll suddenly see the technology in the next generation of products. It's an idea that's being protected and potentially explored. [Register via CrunchGear]
Whoops! Thanks to all who pointed out that this was posted earlier. Sorry about the repeat!