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First battery-free cell phone expands technological horizons for the future

First battery-free cell phone ever to be made in the history of technological evolution has been invented by the researchers of University of Washington. The cell phone requires no charging cables and can function without a battery. Instead, the phone can make and receive calls using a few micro-watts of power received from ambient radio signals or light. The inventors also made power-hungry Skype calls using the worlds first battery-free cell phone, demonstrating that the prototype made of commercial, off-the-shelf components can receive and transmit speech and communicate with a base station.

First battery-free cell phone

The battery-free cell phone saves on power by taking advantage of analog, as opposed to digital, voice encoding. The device’s range comes from tiny solar panels called photodiodes. “The reason we chose to build a battery-free phone is because phones are one of the most important devices that virtually everyone uses,” Vasmi Talla, a former UW electrical engineering doctoral student and Allen School research associate, told Digital Trends. She further said that there are two directions for the project from here. One is to license the technology to existing smartphone makers who could incorporate it into their devices so that emergency calls can be made, even if your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy is out of juice. “That could be a real lifesaver,” Talla explained.

First battery-free cell phone

A cell phone that can never run out of battery could mean the difference between life and death for people in emergency situations. In case of a fire emergency or a road accident, this phone can be really useful. Professor Shyam Gollakota, part of the research team at the University of Washington, said: “We’ve built what we believe is the first functioning cell phone that consumes almost zero power.” “To achieve the really, really low power consumption that you need to run a phone by harvesting energy from the environment, we had to fundamentally rethink how these devices are designed.”

At present, the phone is extremely basic — comprising off-the-shelf components on a printed circuit board. Talla said that future versions could be more advanced, though. A historic achievement by the research team of University of Washington after successfully creating the worlds first battery-free cell phone has set the bar high for further technological inventions.

First battery-free cell phone

Next, the research team plans to focus on improving the battery-free phone’s operating range and encrypting conversations to make them secure. The team is also working to stream video over a battery-free cellphone and add a visual display feature to the phone using low-power E-ink screens.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and Google Faculty Research Awards.