Micro-windmills may power your next smartphone

Charging your phone can be quite a nuisance, especially when you need to leave quickly and there’s no time. Well thanks to researchers at University of Texas, Arlington, charging your next smartphone may be as easy as simply waving it around for a bit.

Smitha Rao and J.-C. Chiao are two researchers at UTA and they have developed something remarkable: a micro wind-mill that can recharge electronic devices.

The proposed design uses a mixture of origami principles and regular micro-engineering to create a 3D self-assembling power generation device that works similarly to a windmill. Lab tests, using artificial wind, have proven that the device is surprisingly sturdy and another great benefit is that due to the way they are built, such devices can be cheaply and easily mass-produced.

Imagine that they can be cheaply made on the surfaces of portable electronics,” Chiao said, “so you can place them on a sleeve for your smart phone. When the phone is out of battery power, all you need to do is to put on the sleeve, wave the phone in the air for a few minutes and you can use the phone again.

A Taiwanese company that’s been working with the researchers is already looking for ways to commercialize this invention, and like many other projects, it gives us great hope for the future of our beloved smartphones.

Images and video thanks to UTA and WinMEMS

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These people can't be serious. Those windmills can probably produce only microwatts of power. it would take a week to charge a cell phone battery.

I don't want mechanical parts in my electronics subject to wear and tear. just make batteries better and components more efficient. k thx

Co_Co said,
I don't want mechanical parts in my electronics subject to wear and tear. just make batteries better and components more efficient. k thx
or... batteries replaceable again.

MrHumpty said,
or... batteries replaceable again.

i do like replacing batteries but i also like slick hardware designs and the sturdiness. such a trade off

techbeck said,
Not sure how I feel about this in my pocket...but....


Yea nuclear batteries have been the way to go forever. I wish I could find some links to the info but the radiological harm from them or a pile of thousands is not that great. IIRC the big problem was they had to find a design that could withstand the test of time... you'd buy multiple devices for your batteries etc. Their shape/form factor/connector would have to be viable for 5-6 years or something.