Researchers Develop a Battery-Less Phone

Monday, July 17, 2017 - 13:11

Researchers from the University of Washington have developed a cell phone which has no battery at all.

The prototype cell phone is the culmination of a long quest by Talla, a research associate at the lab of Joshua Smith, who researches computer science and electrical engineering at UW, Wired reports.

The device uses a technique called backscatter, basically using the radio waves that already move around us to communicate. It is still in its infant stages, but the team was able to successfully demonstrate a voice call from a battery-less phone to an Android smartphone.

"Converting analog human speech to digital signals consumes a lot of power," research associate Vamsi Talla, who worked on the prototype, told Wired. "If you can communicate using analog technology, you're actually more power efficient."

The battery-free cell phone sends digital signals when numbers are inputted in the keypad and then goes completely analog for the voice transmission. The signal moves over an unlicensed frequency to a base station that connects to the digital cellular network via Skype.

The base station doesn’t just connect the cell phone to the network; it also delivers the necessary power to make it work. The current base station allows the phone to be at most 15 meters (49 feet) from it – not really portable, but things might change in the future by integrating base stations with phone towers.

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