A group of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have unveiled a prototype of a battery-free mobile phone, using technology they hope will eventually come to be integrated into iPhones, iPads and other mass-market products. According to Reuters, the phone works by harvesting tiny amounts of power from radio signals, known as radio frequency or ‘RF’ waves.
The first prototype phone is quite basic and at first glance, it simply looks like a circuit board with a few parts attached. Also, the caller must wear headphones and press a button to switch between talking and listening. However, researchers say they are planning to develop further prototypes, featuring a low-power screen for texting and even a basic camera.
“Ambient RF waves are all around us so, as an example, your FM station broadcasts radio waves, your AM stations do that, your TV stations, your cellphone towers. They all are transmitting RF waves,” team member Vamsi Talla told Reuters.
The researchers plan to release a product in eight to nine months time, thought they would not give further details. One team member however, was prepared to give a glimpse of how their work will impact the future of cellphone technology. “In the future every smartphone will come with a battery-free mode where you can at least make a voice call when your battery’s dead.”
The researchers are also developing a version of the battery-free phone that uses a tiny solar cell to provide power.
Click here to watch the video showing prototype battery-free phone in action on Reuters.