This cell phone doesn't need any batteries

This cell phone doesn't need any batteries

The conversion of analog signals into digital data that a phone can understand requires about 800 milliwatts of energy while making a call, which is hundreds of thousands of times higher than the 3.5 microwatts required by the battery-free phone to operate.

Washington, July 6, 2017: In a major leap ahead to life beyond chargers, cords and dying phones, researchers, including one of the Indian-origin, have invented the cell phone that works without batteries.

Instead, the phone pulls power from its environment - either from ambient radio signals harvested by an antenna, or ambient light collected by a solar cell the size of a grain of rice. The team has developed a phone that uses "almost zero power" according to associate professor Shyam Gollakota, who co-authored a paper which detailed the breakthrough.

A team from the University of Washington's Department of Electrical Engineering and the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering has managed to build and successfully make calls with a battery-less phone. An antenna connected to the components converts the vibrations into changes in the signals sent by the cellular base station. According to researchers, this process encodes speech patterns in reflected radio signals in a way that consumes nearly no power.

When a person talks or listens on a phone, tiny vibrations occur in the microphone or speaker, which for the prototype is a pair of earphones.

To receive speech, it converts encoded radio signals into sound vibrations that are picked up by the phone's speaker.

Now this mobile phone requires a custom base station to transmit and receive the radio signals.

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The researchers have added a button in the prototype device that helps users to switch between "transmitting" and "listening". They've used commercial, off-the-shelf components to design a cellphone that can make and receive calls without a battery at all.

Though the current system is a laboratory lash up, the researchers believe that the technology could be installed in a standard cellular network or Wi-Fi router to make calls battery-free.

"The cell phone is the device we depend on most today".

"If you had to pick one device to make battery-free, what would you pick?"

Talla doesn't expect the battery-free phone to replace the iPhone or Android phones anytime soon, as great as it sounds to not need to recharge your phone. In tests the researchers found their mobile phone was functional within 31ft of the base station relying only on energy harvesting ambient radio signals. They take a reading and then "sleep" for a minute or two while they harvest enough energy to perform the next task. "That's been the biggest challenge-the amount of power you can actually gather from ambient radio or light is on the order of 1 or 10 microwatts". The team plans to keep working on the technology to increase the operating range and encrypt conversations.

The video below shows the battery-free phone in action.

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