The problem with modern smartphones, and indeed the majority of devices that don’t enjoy the luxury of a wall socket, that stationary tech seems to revel in, is battery life. For all the wonderful, magical and bizarre tricks that our handhelds can handle these days, they do tend to run out of juice quicker than a St Bernard on speed, though unless you’re using Windows Phone, they don’t tend to crash quite as hard.
A research and development team at the University of Wisconsin, however, has published a report that hopes to put an end to all those early nights your Android seems to be taking these days, and giving it a bit more stamina by recharging your device whilst you walk, using recycled kinetic energy familiar to many fans of Formula One motor racing this season, I’m sure, and the famed KERS system.
Essentially, the new system will consist of a chip placed in the shoe of the phone-bearer, and will convert their steps into an electrical current that will be sent to the phone in your pocket and give it a little more endurance whilst on the road.
“Humans, generally speaking, are very powerful energy-producing machines, and while sprinting, a person can produce as much as a kilowatt of power” claims Professor Tom Krupenkin from the mechanical engineering department at the university.
So perhaps this could be an extremely useful system for runners. Maybe for those who don’t already enjoy the benefits of a certain Puma phone and its slightly underwhelming solar panel, that hasn’t really caught the imagination of customers, judging by the complete lack of recognition even for the mere existence of the device in the major stores here in the UK.
The problem with the solar panel system on a phone is quite apparent for all to see in my opinion. The majority of the time it’s stashed in your pocket, and I’m yet to find someone who genuinely does have the sun shining out of their arse, however much they’d like to believe it. And even when it ventures out into your hand, the rear of the device which bears the panel is facing the darkened floor and is usually covered by a large hand. A silly idea, then, but such difficulties are not shared with this potential system, which relies solely on you being active enough to help it on its way.
This in itself displays the real genius behind the idea, as many of the more mobile of you might have realised, it is generally connecting, and staying connected, to stubbornly evasive mobile networks that really kill the battery of your device off once and for all, so it potentially counteracts that problem immediately, providing you’re not just stuck on a train underneath London, and you’re actually moving.
Having said all that in quite a positive light, I feel I should offer some balance. Yes it’s a great idea, and yes it could help a lot of people out. But how costly would it be to the manufacturer? And is inserting a chip into your shoe really that practical? We’ve heard stories of many magical charging solutions before, which are yet to come to fruition, so maybe this is just another pipe dream waiting to be shattered by profit-margin seeking manufacturers. So take it with a pinch of salt for now, I just found it more interesting than promising, but let’s all cross our fingers and hope that at some point in the future, we can get Kindle-like battery life, with the power of a PC.
Image source: Duracell