While there are virtually limitless ways for people to rely on and enjoy their cellphones, a drained battery stops all function dead in its tracks. One of the biggest hinderances to cellphone advancement is the limitations of current battery technology. A development out of the University of Washington may be a step toward changing that, as researchers have now created what may be the world’s first battery-free cellphone.

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No Energy Storage Needed

The battery-free prototype works by harvesting about 3.5 microwatts of ambient radio signals and light from its surroundings. This eliminates the need for energy storage. The cellphone is constructed from off-the-shelf electronic parts as well as a circuitboard that enables the phone to complete basic functions, including the sending and receiving of calls through Skype, and analog speech transmission.

Powerless Calling

Researchers were able to reduce the phone’s energy consumption by bypassing analog to digital data conversion. Instead, the phone detects speech vibrations and translates words into analog data. While the current prototype consumes virtually no power to complete these functions, it must be operated within 31 feet of a base station, however the research team is looking at ways their design could be integrated into WiFi infrastructure, essentially enabling the phone to access power anywhere wireless connections could be achieved.

Image Source: Mashable

A Battery-Less Future?

While this technology will need to be advanced and scaled considerably before it can deliver the same function as today’s smartphones, it may be a step towards a future where devices are run, not on ultra-efficient batteries, but virtually no batteries at all.


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