Soon Your iPhone Will be Powered by Your Movements! [Piezoelectricity]

Back in December we looked at how Graphene could make the iPhone paper thin within the next 5 years, and now we are going to take a look at another new and emerging technology.

Wouldn’t it be cool if one day your iPhone could recharge itself simply through everyday use? Well it turns out that the technology needed to recharge a mobile device through everyday use is actually already available. In fact this technology was actually available in the late 1800’s. How is this possible? Well it all started with something called  the piezoelectric effect.

The Piezoelectric effect as we said before was was discovered in the late 1800’s (1880 to be exact), by the Jacques and the Pierre Curie brothers. They discovered that when a mechanical stress was applied on crystals like quartz, electrical charges appeared. In fact the more stress that was exerted on the quartz crystal the more electrical charges appeared.

Nowadays, of course, we have advanced this field of technology; in fact some everyday items we use are reliant on peizoelectricity. The most common being lighters and gas grills where a spring-loaded hammer hits a piezoelectric crystal, creating a charge and lighting the gas.

However the Piezoelectric effect can be used in so many different ways to better our society. This technology could be used to replace the battery (or at least significantly reducing the need of a battery), powering our mobile devices our devices through our kinetic movements, such as walking and other daily routine tasks. Piezoelectricy could even be used to power entire cities or buildings, if this technology was incorporated into roads and sidewalks. To help form a better picture on how this would actually work Innowattech have created a great video demonstration on this alternative form of energy that you can view below…

This technology is so promising the the U.S. army were actually experimenting with it. They were trying to see if they could power a soldiers field equipment (IE: Radios, GPS instruments etc..) with Piezoelectic elements in the soldiers boots. The concept being that with each step the soldier took, a small charge would be generated; thus recharging the the equipments’ batteries. Unfortunately however we have not advanced this field of technology enough for it to be a viable method for keeping a soldiers equipment powered. These peizoelectric boots proved to be too bulky and uncomfortable for the soldiers, so the U.S. military decided to drop this idea for now. Regardless it is a great sign of what is to come in the piezoelectric field; when we can make piezoelectric generators small enough that is.

Even though the idea of being able to power your iPhone through Piezoelectricity is still a little ways off, it is a great sign of what is to come! Nokia has even been on board with the piezoelectric craze, and have filed a patent for the first piezoelectric battery. Which works by using strips of piezoelectric crystals that sit at the end two rails. This generates a current when compressed by the frame. So as the user walks, or otherwise moves the phone, the motion generates electricity. This charges a capacitor which in turn trickles charge into the battery, keeping it topped up. Which is a pretty cool concept if you ask me.

It will definitely be neat to see what Apple can do with piezoelectricty, and hopefully one day it will lead to an iPhone that is powered purely by everyday use/ your movements. What are your thoughts on PiezoElectricty? Do you see this technology becoming more and more mainstream in the next 5 years?

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