Finally, a Mobile Phone that Doesn’t Require a Battery

The new technology uses a process known as ‘backscatter’

Have you ever charged your phone to 100 percent, left the house for the day only to realise your once fully charged phone is now at 20 percent?

Such is the life of our mobile gadgets.

They chew up a lot of power, due to the number of applications and capabilities any given phone has. According to researchers from the University of Washington, if we are willing to downsize on the apps and capabilities we may be able to get rid of batteries altogether.

The new technology uses a process known as ‘backscatter’. A technique that uses the radio waves that already surround us as a form of communication. Though the new phone is still in its testing phase, researchers successfully made a call to an Android phone.

Digital backscatter or as researchers call it, ‘Passive Wi-Fi’ was used by researchers to create singing birthday cards and talking t-shirts, generating only small amounts of energy. The team then simplified the system to power the mobile phone. Researcher Vamsi Talla who worked on the prototype explains:

Converting analogue human speech to digital signals consumes a lot of power, if you can communicate using analogue technology, you're actually more power efficient.

This involved re-writing analogue backscatter technology a technology that was last used during the Cold War. The phone sends digital signals but then immediately will switch to analogue for voice calls.

The digital base station of the phone will connect to Skype; this base station will then provide the device with the power it needs. At present, the phone is not particularly mobile, it can only move 15 metres away from its base station, but once the base station is successfully connected to phone towers, it will allow greater range.

Real cell towers have a hundred times as much power, and would increase the range to perhaps a kilometre

The tech is very much in its testing phase, but if the phone proves successful, we may see the end of the dreaded charger.

And the end to being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead phone.

Header: shutterstock

Related Articles

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit