Mobile phones powered by…speech?
by Mark R
This modern age of cell phones has certainly made communication easier, and the only downside is the necessity of charging our cell phones. This need always keeps us going back to the AC outlet, often at inconvenient times.
Devices like the solar-powered Solio or other AA-battery powered chargers might give a cellular phone a tiny bit of juice that it needs, but what if there was a simpler way? What if charging our phone was as simple as talking to it?
This is what some University of Houston scientists are suggesting is possible with piezoelectricity, when a mechanical force is converted to electricity. For example, a barbeque grill lighter uses piezoelectric forces when you push a button. The button puts pressure on a crystal, the crystal produces a voltage, and the result is a spark that lights your coals.
A specific size of crystal or ceramic material could become a power cell for a mobile device, and the sound waves for our own voice could be the spark that powers it. Some of the power generating crystals would have to be very small, only 23 nanometers wide. To put this into scale, a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
Something that miniscule would be hard to perfect, and scientists are saying that it could be years before this technology gets going. However, phones that run on speech alone would save a lot of energy. After all, most teenagers are chatting on their phones constantly, so you might as well put this chatter to good use.