UW Researchers Create Prototype Cell Phone with No Batteries Required

Cell phone without battery

A team of computer scientists and electrical engineers from the University of Washington has been experimenting on how to get cell phones to work without batteries. The new invention could be a game changer for future cell phones and other devices which consume power incessantly.

The team has invented a cell phone that works using ambient power sources or light. In general, cellular transmission consumes a lot of power for converting analog signals into digital data. If things go fine, the new invention will eliminate power consumption to a large extent.

The new technology uses tiny vibrations in a phone’s microphone or speaker when a person is either speaking into the mic or listening at the speaker end.

After demonstrating the prototype with the help of off-the-shelf components, the team said, “This is an initial phase where we got the first cell phone functioning with the zero power consumption”.

To get this really going and to work on this further, the team said they first need to fundamentally rethink how the devices are designed. However, it would be a challenge to come up zero power consumption, as the device would definitely require a small amount of energy to perform some operations.

The researchers demonstrated how to harvest a small amount of energy from two different sources. The prototype operated on power gathered from ambient radio signals transmitted by a base station up to 9.45 meters away. They also demonstrated how to use the power harvested from ambient light with a tiny solar cell, roughly the size of a rice grain. The device was successful in communicating with a base station that was 15.24 meters away.

Vamsi Talla, one of the researchers, said the team has created a startup company and named it Jeeva Wireless, with a long-term vision of selling low-power mobile phones.

For now, the team is focused on bringing other low-power communication devices to the market by the middle of 2018.