Nokia developing the never-charge handset

June 19, 2009 | 10:10

Tags: #rfid #wireless-charging

Companies: #nokia

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.
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