On Friday, Intel said it is researching technology that could harvest free energy from the environment. If the company succeeds, it’s possible we could all enjoy mobile phones and other devices that would essentially run indefinitely without charging, thanks to this technology. To make this possible, Intel is working on developing tiny sensors that would capture energy from sources such as the sun, your own body’s heat, or even the energy that is generated when you move a phone’s trackball. Other energy sources could include the radiation of cell phones or TV signals.
During a press event, Justin Rattner, chief technology officer at Intel, pointed out that there are already watches that are powered by body heat, along with prototype smartphones with display screens that double as solar cells.
Intel’s first efforts at developing this type of technology revolve around sensors which could power themselves using free energy. For example, if an accelerometer was buried in the wall of a building, it could recharge itself from a cell phone tower’s radiation energy. This would let the sensor take and transmit readings of the building's movement.
Perhaps best of all, Rattner points out that you wouldn’t have to service any batteries or run any power. Instead, the units would be self-contained and self-powered as a result of environmental energy.
In addition to this type of power, Intel has designed a self-charging neural implant that can monitor bodily functions and transmit its readings wirelessly, according to Rattner. These units would never need to be recharged. As a result, they become systems that you can install and forget, because they harvest energy from the environment and power themselves.
Intel’s research is still ongoing, and it hasn’t marketed such a sensor yet. In reality, it may take a while before this type of energy-harvesting technology can power larger items. For now, Intel is working to provide a broader view of energy harvesting through this research.
Even though this type of technology may be a bit futuristic, it sounds pretty cool. After all, just the thought of not having to charge our cell phones is exciting! Of course, this will also mean the "my cell phone was dead" excuse will no longer be a valid one.