Charge Your SmartPhone…by Shouting at It?

In 1878, an exhausted seamstress inspired Thomas Edison to invent a voice-powered sewing machine. The peculiar device worked–sort of–but the technology never quite caught on the way the lightbulb did. Now, a team of Nokia researchers and scientists from Queen Mary University of London want to harness the same power on a grander scale…and use it to charge your smartphone. 

The Sound of Charging

Imagine going to a rock concert and, instead of your phone being drained to death by poor reception and “OMG” Facebook posts, having it recharged by the music and the roar of the crowd. That’s what Joe Briscoe and Steve Dunn of Queen Mary want to deliver, and their new smartphone prototype shows that it’s possible.

So, what makes them think they can succeed where Thomas Edison failed? Probably the nanogenerators. Their smartphone prototype is chock full of ‘em, and they’re much more sensitive to sound than anything Edison was using. His voice-powered sewing machine required seamstresses to yell into the mouthpiece—loudly, continuously, and at a constant pitch. A roomful of them would have been deafening!



With the application of nanogenerators, however, the researchers postulate that even ambient noise—conversation, traffic, music on the radio—will be enough to charge a smartphone. They demonstrated this with the prototype, generating the requisite five volts to reenergize its battery.

In an interview with Mashable, Briscoe said, “Charging by sound and vibrations could help improve the usability of electronic devices and allow them to work for longer, without worrying about connecting to a charger.” He goes on to describe how reclaiming waste energy is beneficial to the environment, since it cuts back the demand on fossil fuels.

Everything is a SmartPhone Charger

In their own pursuit of wireless power, tech giant Qualcomm has followed in the footsteps of Edison’s rival, Nikola Tesla. They’ve spent the past 7 years developing a magnetic resonance system that would enable wireless charging through everyday objects.

Yeah, he ate the wireless charger. Now he IS the wireless charger.

Yeah… he ate the wireless charger.
Now he IS the wireless charger.

Desks, tables, sofas, cars, and more could all be outfitted with Qualcomm’s system, furthering their goal to make wireless charging accessible from anywhere. They expect to launch the new technology by early 2015, well ahead of any sound-powered phones, but it will take time to build the network of wireless chargers they envision.

Whether you side with the Edison approach or the Tesla technique, I think we can all agree that the future of smartphone charging is bright. It won’t be long until we see the end of the wall-hugging era…and thank goodness for that!

photo credit: timsamoff via photopin cc
photo credit: viviandnguyen_ via photopin cc


Brent Urmey is an avid reader and writer on a variety of subjects, including social media, SEO, the Wireless industry, and life in Lancaster County, PA. He is a graduate of Drexel University and a survivor of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. You can connect with Brent on Google +.