Everyone knows that charging a smartphone in the middle of the day is a must for some of us. USB cable, chargers and power banks are quite troublesome (I, for instance, keep forgetting mine all the time)… and frankly speaking they are becoming boring 😉
However, it turns out that many people around the world are working on satisfying us and making charging cables a thing of the past.
How is that possible? All projects described below have one common goal: they want charging to be just a side effect of other things we do every day. Do you walk a lot? Do you sing in the shower? Great! Perhaps soon it will be enough to charge the battery of your device.
Sing to your Nokia
Nokia and scientists from London’s Queen Mary University are working on a prototype phone which will be powered by sound waves. The so-called nanogenerators will make this possible. They will be designed to react to the sound. It turns out that a phone with such nanogenerators exposed to sounds such as a human voice, street sounds or music can produce up to 5 volts of electricity. It is enough to charge a phone. More about nanogenerators – here.
I have already written about charging shoe insoles. SolePower is a shoe insole with a USB port which will be available in stores this year. Walking the distance of about 8 kilometres is to be enough to full charge our phone.
Go for a coffe
Duracell has also started thinking about mobile phone users. Starbucks is testing their new solution, the PowerMat or charging mat, currently available at a few locations in Boston. How does it work? The mat in the shape of a black disc is installed in the table top. It is enough to put our phone on it while drinking coffee, and voilà! The battery is charged.
McDonalds, The Coffee Bean and Madison Square Garden are also testing such charging discs in their tables.
However, just as I suspected, it is too good to be true ;). Why? For our phone to be charged that way we need additional equipment.
3 solutions are available:
1. special phone case that allows for charging directly from the mat; the cost: $29,99
2. a ring attached via USB; not yet available in stores
3. a portable energy bank, which costs $59,99 – its great advantage is the fact that the phone gets ‘immediately’ charged and you don’t have to wait. I’m not really happy about that since it’s yet another gadget which I would probably forget 😉
Use … yourself! 🙂
Or turn your body heat into electric energy. The idea originated in South Korea, at the KAIST (Korea Institute of Advanced Technology and Science). Professor Byung Jin Cho and his research team have developed a flexible thermoelectric generator. Curiously enough, the invention is a connection of two previously created solutions: thermoelectric generators based on organic and non-organic materials. The former, due to their flexibility, are great for body-worn devices such as bracelets or bands. The latter are of much greater power and can create more energy. The combination creates a lot of opportunities. As of now, Professor Cho’s team is working on application of the new generator in medical sensors. They underline, however, that it might be used for smartphone charging as well. You can read more about a thermoelectric generator here.
Sit in your armchair, comfortably…
… and wait until your device just charges on its own. How? With ultrasounds. uBeam is a fully functional prototype created by a 25-year-old astrobiology student, Meredith Perry. It allows for charging electronic devices in a similar way as we use a router and Wi-Fi. This means that our smartphone is charging within the reach of a transmitter, regardless of whether it’s in our pocket, bag, or on our pillow. Transmitter will be a small-sized slab, about 5 mm thick, which could be hung on the wall. It should resemble wallpaper or be covered with a decorative motive, and available in two types: for professional and private interiors. The company declares the device will be on store shelves within the next two years.
As we can see, there are many options for convenient charging. We’ll probably have an opportunity to check them out within next 5 years and decide if we’re going to get rid of the cable.
P.S. This article is dedicated to my colleague Kuba who’s recently complained that I don’t have any social widgets on my blog. Well, now I do 😉