Smartphone technologies are advancing with a speed that no one could have predicted just five years ago. The processors are extremely powerful, the display resolution can put many TVs to shame, the integrated cameras, GPS systems, and all the accompanying applications, have pretty much erased the need of separate individual devices. Yet, with all these incredible developments, the one thing that has not kept up, and keeps bringing them all down, is the energy storage.
What has happened now is that because the technology is so practical and now much more affordable, everyone is using it to an extend to which we have all become dependent, and sadly in some cases, addicted to our smartphones. Reading books, streaming videos, playing games, replying emails, storing 5,000 photos from all holidays of the last 5 years- we can do it all.
But, the more functions and extras a smartphone has, the faster the battery drains, and there is not much anyone can do besides making sure they have a charger or a back-up energy storage device with them at all times. Even the latest wireless charging technology requires a mat and physical contact at a fixed location.
It does not as surprise to anyone these days to walk into a coffee place or a train, and see all these people pulling out chargers out of their bags, hiding like criminals, searching for a power outlet and hoping to bring the battery charge up by as much as possible in a limited time-space.
With this in mind, the guys at Nikola Labs, an Ohio-based start-up, began developing their wireless power technology, which recycles wasted radio frequency (RF) waves and converts them into extra charge for the phone battery.
The Nikola Technology is a product of a close partnership between Nikola Labs and staff at the Electro Science Laboratory at Ohio State University. Dr Chi Chin Chen, a world leading researcher in the field of RF energy harvesting, together with Emre Oksal, Ness Shroff and Roland Tallos are the fathers of the one-of-a-kind smartphone case for iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6, which captures RF waves, converts them to electricity, and feeds it to the battery. The boost that the case gives is about 25-30%.
The company is currently undergoing a Kickstarter campaign, hoping that they can begin production right after reaching their goal, and start selling in early 2016 for $99 USD a piece. With a working prototype already in their hands, the guys behind Nikola Technology were so convinced in its success that they even put private funding, raised separately, towards their campaign, just so they see it realized.
But, these guys are far from being the only ones working on self-powering smartphone technologies. French solar technology company, Sunpartner Technologies, is already developing the WYSIPS Crystal- a thin, see-through overlay for smartphones, covered by tiny solar cells, that harvest natural and artificial light any time they can. Similar technology is the Ampy, a wearable gadget that collects kinetic energy from movement and transmits it to the phone. The device was a huge hit on Kickstarter, raising more than three times the company goal, with shipping scheduled for this coming fall.
So, yes, Nikola Labs has quite a competition. But, wouldn’t it be great if we never had to think of batteries and they just considering them as one of the many components inside the phone like a chip, or a cord, that we don’t even think (or care) that it is there? That is exactly the thought that drives the guys at Nikola Labs. Give them a push on Kickstarter. With only a few days left, they need your support.
Image (c) Chris Velazco