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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