Good vibrations: charging up on the go

March 11, 2014
2 min read

In this age of constant communication, having your cell phone die probably ranks high on many people’s list of greatest fears. Well, prepare to have those fears assuaged. According to an article in Science Daily, a group of researchers have developed a new type of material that constantly charges a mobile phone as it gets moved and jostled while driving.

Dr. Xudong Wang at the University of Wisconsin Madison, working in collaboration with researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in China, developed a material able to turn small levels of vibrational energy into electricity. While this type of energy can be generated whenever the phone is moved, it’s most effective in the presence of a steady source of vibration, such as in a moving car.

The nanogenerator itself comes in the form of a thin flexible sandwich of materials, including a spongy layer of mesopores that are very effective at absorbing vibration. Researchers say this energy-harvesting layer can be built into the structure of the phone itself, or attached externally.

Consumers are more connected than ever and often that connectivity is facilitated by mobile phones. We’ve seen how people take their phones nearly everywhere, how many become anxious when they’re without them, and how some experts regard this kind of attachment to phones similarly to addiction.

Because so many people rely on their phones being ever present and useful, many consumers are concerned with their phones’ ability to stay charged. According to Mintel’s Mobile Phones US 2014 report, 38% of respondents said that the battery life is an important feature when considering which phone to purchase.

So important in fact, that we’re seeing a lot of innovation happening in the phone-charging game—offering the option to charge mobile devices on the street, in parks, and in new ways that sidestep the need for an outlet.

As consumers spend more time away from home and power sources in general, the demand for technology like this is only going to increase. Companies that can incorporate useful add-on features into appliances or furniture we use every day are sure to find success.

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