The Future Of... Mobile Device Chargers
November 19, 2008, 12:24pm PST | Length: 00:03:45
No power? No problem. ZDNet correspondent Sumi Das takes a look at kinetic energy technology that charges mobile phones and devices without ever needing an electrical outlet. The mobile device charger generates power from motion, whether it's in a pocket, a briefcase, or the glove compartment of a car.
Sumi Das: It's the bane of business travelers and chatty teenagers alike. The battery that's about to die. Manufacturers may tout longer-lasting batteries, but they always run out. Motion 2 Energy, or M2E, says its technology could help put an end to the power struggle by harvesting kinetic energy, the energy from movement, any movement.
In 1831, physicist Michael Faraday proved that a moving magnet inside a wire coil could induce an electrical current.
Speaker: So this technology really comes from bringing an older principle, which is the Faraday Principle, into the 21st Century.
Sumi Das: Building on that principle, an Idaho company has invented an external charging device, which generates power when it moves.
Speaker: At the center of it really is a very interesting to alter the magnetic fields. And then once you alter those fields -- and they're anywhere from 3 to 700 percent stronger than they were before -- then you use unique coil design and smart electronics to get a really interesting boost from the power.
Sumi Das: Slightly larger than a pack of cards, the device can be tossed in a purse, a briefcase, on the dashboard of a car.
Speaker: You're taking that movement. You're translating it through magnets and coils, which a lot of generators do. And then you're translating it into what's called an ultra-capacitor that basically moderates the charge and stores it. And then using smart electronics, we trickle charge a battery that's in the device.
Sumi Das: Six hours of cumulative movement later, you've stored up enough energy to squeeze out 30 to 60 minutes of talk time on your cell phone, extra shots on your digital camera, or a few more tunes on your MP3 player. Kinetic energy technology could put an end to lugging around multiple chargers and extra batteries.
Speaker: Business will benefit because the number one thing left in hotels today by business travelers is your charger.
Sumi Das: The product was originally designed not for business travelers, but for the defense department.
Speaker: We love our electronics devices, but believe it or not, the military loves them more. And over the years, soldiers have started carrying an amazing array of mobile electronics, and they also have to carry the batteries.
Sumi Das: Using motion to charge devices instead of plugging them in wastes less energy.
Speaker: Right now, 95 percent of the charge that's involved with cell phones is from the vampire appliances left in the wall. And only five percent is actually used -- energy used for charging your phone.
Sumi Das: A benefit to the environment, too. Beyond travelers and tree huggers, though, this technology may have an impact globally.
Speaker: 50 percent of the new phones that are sold in the world this year are going to be sold in emerging economies. And so that's where a lot of places don't have stable electrical grids, and people literally have to race home at a certain time of day during rolling brown-outs to charge their phone.
Sumi Das: The future of mobile device chargers. It may give whole new meaning to the phrase "power walk." For ZDNet, I'm Sumi Das.