Battery-Free Cell Phones: Convenient and Good for the Environment?

Green
The prototype for a battery-free cell phone developed at the University of Washington was built with cheap, off-the-shelf components. Photo Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington

Eric Tegethoff
Public News Service

SEATTLE – Cell-phone users are excited that the prototype for a battery-free cell phone might mean they could cut the cord to their chargers in the future. But the developing technology also may be a boon for the environment.

Developed at the University of Washington, the battery-free cell phone draws power from the air by “harvesting” radio frequency signals and turning them into energy. The prototype also uses “photodiodes,” which essentially are tiny solar panels.

Vamsi Talla worked as a research associate on the project. He says the technology would help cell phones last longer.

“Because these phones don’t have batteries, then there is nothing that would actually limit the life of the phone,” he says. “So, your phone can last decades.”

University of Washington researchers used a bare-bones prototype to make their first call, consisting of only a number pad and a button that had to be pressed while speaking. But the infant technology holds a lot of promise: Their simple prototype was made from cheap, off-the-shelf components.

Talla says along with creating phones that don’t have to be tossed every few years, eliminating batteries that rely on heavy metals also would help the environment.

“You can think about the environmental impact of it as well because batteries typically contain lithium and other heavy metals, which are really toxic,” he explains. “So, if you can reduce the amount of batteries you need, we can have a positive impact on the environment.”

Talla is now chief technology officer of Jeeva Wireless, a startup that came out of the University of Washington research. He says Jeeva is working on a battery-free display, which would allow for texting and a battery-free camera.

Categories
Technology

RELATED BY

  • Alternatives to Facebook

    Shelly Palmer  Facebook has been under relentless attack since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018. Broadcasters and news publishers have declared open season on Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg,...
  • Can YouTube Ever Be Brand Safe?

    Shelly Palmer They say that if you ask the wrong question, you are guaranteed to get the wrong answer. Asked as, “Can YouTube ever be brand safe?” the answer...
  • Governing a Digital Democracy: Unanswered Questions

    Shelly Palmer  I wrote an article back in April 2009 entitled Metamerica: Evolving The Governance Of A Digital Democracy. It begins, “Dateline New York: April 3, 2021” with breaking news...
  • AI Won’t Take Your Job, People Will

    Shelly Palmer AI, specifically “augmented intelligence,” is going to have both an awesome and an unfortunate impact on our posterity. Let’s explore one possible way AI may impact the...

0