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Nokia’s engineers have been known for their expertise with antenna and now they are trying to put their skills to better use. Nokia says it is developing a technology that could draw enough power from ambient radio waves to keep a cellphone’s battery topped up.

Using an ultra-wide band antenna which can pick up frequencies from 500 megahertz to 10 gigahertz, from television stations, radio stations and cellphone towers, they are able to use the energy gathered not to pick up data transmissions, but to power the electronics inside a phone.

Markku Rouvala, one of the researchers who developed the device at the Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge, UK, said the wireless charging is not intended as a sole energy source, but rather to be used in conjunction with other energy harvesting technologies, such as handset casings embedded with solar cell materials.

The Nokia device will work on the same principles as a crystal radio set or radio frequency identification (RFID) tag: by converting electromagnetic waves into an electrical signal. This requires two passive circuits. “Even if you are only getting microwatts, you can still harvest energy, provided your circuit is not using more power than it’s receiving,” Rouvala says.

At present they can harvest 5 milliwatts, with a short-term goal of gathering 20 milliwatts, which is enough power to keep a phone in standby mode indefinitely without having to recharge it.

The power harvested currently is enough to stop battery drains in between calls, that is, when your phone is in standby it would not be losing any charge. The team hopes to increase the power harvest to 50 milliwatts which would be enough to slowly recharge the battery. When that day comes, we all can throw aside the worry of having to plug in the phone.

Nokia hopes to bring this technology to the market in the next three to five years. This project started somewhere around 2009. While it seemed irrelevant in those days, this particular technology can be a great find in today’s date. We’ve got in touch with folks at Nokia to know more about the status of this project. We hope to see this coming soon.

Credits: WMPowerUser, Technology Review


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