Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sound Could Power Your Cell Phone?

This is some of the coolest technology that I’ve heard about in a while. Researchers in South Korea have discovered breakthrough technology that can convert sound into electricity. So what would this do? Well, think about it…one of the most logical things to utilize the technology on would be cell phones.

Can you imagine having a future cell phone that was powered by the sound of your voice? How cool would that be?! This is technology that could really go somewhere. In an interview with the Telegraph, Dr. Sang-Woo Kim said, “Sound power can be used for various novel applications including cellular phones that can be charged during conversations.” It would be extremely nice to not have to worry about your phone dying on you during a long phone conversation.

Dr. Kim and his team have been working on this new method of converting sound into electricity at the Sungkyunkwan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology in Seoul. With this technology, they say that a cell phone could be completely charged by simply talking into it.

So, what if you don’t use your phone much for the purpose of verbally communicating with someone? What if you are more of a texter? No problem at all. Kim says that even when the phone is not making a call and feeding off of your voice, it can still use background noise to power itself.

Now, cell phones are not the only thing that this sound converting technology could be used for though. The researchers also say that people could install "sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles." Now that is even more impressive.

In the high tech industry, “energy scavenging” to power mobile devices is quickly growing in demand. Researchers have been hard at work investigating the possible use of movement or kinetic energy to power devices without the need for a charger or wall socket, but the sound converting technology seems to be the most promising at the moment.

So far, the team at Sungkyunkwan has not yet figured out exactly how to completely power a device via sound, but they are getting very close. The technology itself is comprised of an electrical current that is generated via zinc oxide wires that compress and release whenever a sound wave causes an absorbing pad to vibrate. Kim claims that the technology will only improve as they work to switch out the zinc oxide for different, more efficient, materials.

"Our current output performance can be applied to various electronic devices with low-power consumption such as self-powered sensors and body-implantable tiny devices. We believe that we can realize more efficient sound-driven nanogenerators," Kim told The Telegraph.

According to the Telegraph, the current version of the technology can convert about 100 decibels into 50 millivolts. This sounds pretty good to me so far. Kim promises that he and his team will be hard at work to further develop this incredible new technology. I don’t know about you, but I definitely think that this is some promising technology that we could most certainly see sometime in the future.

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