Although only capable of harvesting 50mW - at best - from the airwaves, Nokia believes the new energy could keep a simple mobile running indefinitely.
If – like me – you have a tendency to forget to put your beloved mobile 'phone on charge each night, Nokia might just be about to answer your most fervent dreams: a handset which runs on fairy dust and dreams.
Okay, so the handset requires perhaps a little
more than that: according to an article over on CNet
, the Finnish mobile giant's latest wheeze is a mobile which absorbs free energy out of the air in the same way as an RFID tag.
The technology – currently being condensed into prototype form by Nokia's Cambridge-based Research Centre – snags free energy by absorbing the ever-present radio waves that surround us: TV signals, radio signals, even WiFi hotspots. By converting this excess energy into internal power, the handset will – the team believes – be able to absorb upwards of 50 milliwatts of power.
While 50mW might sound like a vanishingly small amount – and it is, although far higher than the 5mW that current lab experiments have yielded – it's more than a simple handset would need to keep itself running. A basic handset would require around 20mW to stay in standby – allowing the excess 30mW to be used in the trickle-charging of the device's battery. Okay, so it'll take a while to charge – but it can be charging all the time.
It's a neat idea, but not one we'll be seeing commercialised immediately: the researchers have said that it won't be developed into a usable solution for at least three years – more realistically, five. Despite the clear barriers to the technology, it has at least been proven as a concept in the increasing uses of passive RFID tags, which harvest radiowaves and convert them to enough energy to transmit their own unique code.
Tempted by the thought of a mobile 'phone you never need to charge, or are you slightly suspicious as to how long a 50mW current could keep your smartphone running for? Share your thoughts over in the forums