Since I don’t work in a traditional office, my whole world is mobile. For years, I’ve been writing about the technology bag that I carry around with me. It has all my gadgets, and a handful of chargers and other wires. No matter how prepared I try to be though, a few times each week I’m inevitably scrambling for a place to charge my smartphone or laptop. It’s a first world problem that is familiar to many people.
Dozens of innovative companies have tried to solve our energy problem over the years. I’ve seen everything from creative solar chargers to headbands that harness sweat and convert it to smartphone power while we exercise. One thing I haven’t seen until today is the possibility of charging our smartphones with everyday sounds.
This idea is not new, and when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. What an ingenious idea that our smartphones could charge simply by using the sound of our voices while we talk on them. Innovators at Nokia and the Queen Mary University of London are trying to make this a reality for all of us.
In their prototype, the smartphone is charged by everyday background noise like music, distant voices, a dog barking, a bus driving down the street, etc. It works by basically converting sound vibrations into energy.
According to Phys.org, “The team used the key properties of zinc oxide, a material that when squashed or stretched creates a voltage by converting energy from motion into electrical energy, in the form of nanorods. The nanorods can be coated onto various surfaces in different locations making the energy harvesting quite versatile.“
The prototype phone used for this research was able to generate five volts of energy (enough to completely charge a phone). I am very excited about this concept. It will makes our lives seem more efficient, and it will suddenly give a purpose to all the extraneous and somewhat annoying noises surrounding us during the day. Using sound will also be faster and more predictable than using a solar charger. The best part…no more wires!