Let’s face it, the way we charge our phones hasn’t evolved much over the years. You plug your phone in, or place it on a precise place on a wireless charging pad, and then you wait. But the genius researchers over at the University of Washington have developed a way to charge your phone from across the room using freakin’ laser beams!
Researchers developed a cell that can power a smartphone using energy from laser beams – and it charges just as quickly as a direct connection with a USB cable. A focused near-infrared beam, which can extend up to 40 feet, delivers power, while several “retroreflectors” around the power cell reflect the guard beams back to the charging unit.
You might be thinking that this sounds as dangerous as sharks with laser beams on their heads, but the researchers designed a bunch of safety features, like a heatsink to help dissipate the heat and an automatic shut-off if a human moves into the beam’s path.
To accomplish this, the aforementioned retroflectors act as a trip wire, terminating the charging beam if something enters the path. “The guard beams are able to act faster than our quickest motions because those beams are reflected back to the emitter at the speed of light,” said Shyam Gollakota, one of the co-authors of the study.
Gollakota and co-author Arka Majumdar published their research recently in Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable & Ubiquitous Technologies. Sometime it could totally change the way we charge our devices – no sharks needed.
Images via Mark Stone for UW