One of the biggest problems for mobile phone users or indeed anyone that uses a portable consumer electronics device is the consumption of power. Despite attempts to create longer lasting batteries for various products ultimately users must charge a phone via an electrical outlet. Now a new report on the Telgraph web site reports that a group of electrical engineers are coming up with a way to charge mobile phones simply by speaking into it.
The technology is being developed by team members at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea. They are coming up with ways to turn sound into electricity. This is how the new technique works:
The technology uses tiny strands of zinc oxide sandwiched between two electrodes. A sound absorbing pad on top vibrates when sound waves hit it, causing the tiny zinc oxide wires to compress and release. This movement generates an electrical current that can then be used to charge a battery.
A prototype has already been developed by the university's team that the article claims can "convert sound of around 100 decibels - the equivalent of noisy traffic - to generate 50 millivolts of electricity." Of course that amount of power isn't nearly enough to charge current mobile phones but Sungkyunkwan University's team members hope that they will be able to create different materials that will allow for higher amounts of power to be generated by sound.
Ultimately the goal is to create a process where speaking into the device would charge it up. Indeed things like background noise could also be detected by such a device to charge it up when it is not being used. Other scientists are coming up with similar ways to charge portable devices such as the human heart beat or via body movement.