Every year, we are introduced to different kinds of technology our smartphones are now capable of. We’ve seen them getting thinner, bolder and packing some really cool features that we didn’t actually thought possible for a phone decades back. While we’ve seen some of our smartphone’s individual departments improving real quick (as is the case for the camera), one of the most important aspect for a modern phone is somehow commonly been overlooked by manufacturers, the battery life.
Although there are companies that dedicate so much time and effort in this department, most of the leading smartphone manufacturers are often leaving this part as it is, while continues to add more battery-hungry features. One of the main reason is that, adding more battery means thicker phones and thicker phones are so outdated. Nobody wants to buy that for real.
Despite of some efforts from manufacturers to somehow deaden the problem (such as introducing adaptive fast charging), chances are slim that we will soon find any good solution for this long-term problem that has been besetting modern smartphones for years. Unless we invented a smartphone without any battery, right? Well, outlandish it may sound but researchers from the University of Washington just did that.
Researchers from the University of Washington invented a battery-free phone that is able to make Skype calls while consuming almost zero percent of power. Shyam Gollakota, an associate computer science and engineering professor at the University of Washington said that they’ve built the first phone that consumes almost no power.
“We’ve built what we believe is the first functioning cellphone that consumes almost zero power,” Shyam Gollakota told UW Today.
“To achieve the really, really low power consumption that you need to run a phone by harvesting energy from the environment, we had to fundamentally rethink how these devices are designed.”
The current prototype works by harnessing power from ambient light and radio waves collected by a solar cell the size of a grain of rice. As of now, the phone needs a custom base station to transmit and receive calls but the researchers are so positive that it will one day be implemented into standard mobile infrastructure.
“You could imagine in the future that all cell towers or Wi-Fi routers could come with our base station technology embedded in it,” said co-author Vamsi Talla, a former UW electrical engineering doctoral student and Allen School research associate. “And if every house has a Wi-Fi router in it, you could get battery-free cellphone coverage everywhere.”
Although the current battery-free phone is way too far from being called a smartphone, we see the potential of it being implemented by major manufacturers in the near future. We might not see them coming in a year or two, but the fact that the technology is already there and is actively been in works, proves how advance the modern world is. There are more amazing technologies coming in our way as we delve deeper into modernization.
As of now, the researchers continues to improve the technology until they’re ready to be commercially available. Their next step is to make the phone be able to stream videos and implement to low power e-ink screen for visual display feature.
So is it possible to have a no-battery phone? Hell yes!