Forgot your phone charger? Don’t worry, the future’s got your back

Imagine that your mobile phone never ran out of battery, you didn’t have to think to charge it up and wherever you went it would always be topped up: that’s what the future will hold.

Wireless charging has been round for a while but has failed to fully break into the consumer market, but the number of inventions built around charging your phone with new technology being dreamed up by scientists and engineers is ever-increasing.

If they get their way and even half of the crazy charging inventions become a reality, then we’ll never have to plug our phones into the wall charger again.

In short, science is great, and here’s some of the most bizarre and brilliant ways you could be charging your phone in the future:

Beer-powered charging

If your phone dies on a night out when you’re in a bar then just pull out this device and use your beer, coffee or beverage of choice to re-charge your phone.

The Epiphany onE Puck claims to ensure your phone will never die again while being tiny, lightweight and portable. The device works with either hot or cold energy.

It managed to raise $132,000 when it was on Kickstarter, and Epiphany Labs, the company behind the device, says it will begin shipping this month.

Source: Kickstarter.

Charge while you walk


Even something as simple as walking can be harnessed to create power that could one day re-charge the battery of an empty phone.

Researchers for the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a self-charging power cell that converts mechanical energy to chemical energy.

They say that anything that involves mechanical energy, including walking, could provide power when using the cell.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology.

Image courtesy of: Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek.

Power up from thin air


We can’t see it but there’s a lot floating around right in front of our eyes, and in recent years this has included an increasing amount of power from wireless signals.

Scientists from Duke University, US, have created a cheap way to harness the loose power. Their device converts microwave signals to direct current voltage that can recharge a phone or other small device.

The technology used to harvest the power could also be used to collect energy from other sources including satellite signals, Wi-Fi or sounds.

Source: Duke University.

Teeny tiny windmill power


A minute windmill with the ability to fit on a grain of rice could provide power for electrical devices.

In fact the windmills are so small – only 1.8mm at their widest point – that up to ten of them could squeeze onto a single grain of rice.

Wind created by moving a phone with tiny devices on would generate the electricity that could be collected by the phone’s battery. You can see a video of a windmill in action here.

Source: University of Texas Arlington.

Power up with vibrations


When you throw your phone down on the passenger seat of your car and drive off, the vibrations from the car automatically charge you phone.

Engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, have created a nanogenerator that can harvest and convert vibration energy.

These vibrations could be from any source, from a vehicle’s engine to an overly zealous washer/dryer.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rice-based phone batteries


Rice husks could well become standard ingredients in batteries. While not being a way of directly recharging your phone, the husks could be used to power batteries.

The outer-shell of rice is made up of 20% silica, an oxygen and silicon combination.

The silicon could be used for high-capacity lithium batteries, giving products such as mobile phones and laptops a longer time between charges. The researchers behind the advances have apparently already received interest from battery makers.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Round-Up: The technology you missed this week

Real-time cyber attack tracking


This – slightly hypnotic to watch – interactive view of the world shows cyber attacks zooming from country-to-country in real-time – well, when they are detected.

The clever tool, made by Russian security company Kaspersky Lab, lets you look at individual countries and see the number of attacks in each region of the world, with different malware attacks being shown in different colours.

Source: Motherboard / Vice

3D printing stronger than steel but lighter than water


These bone-like structures created by scientists using 3D printing are stronger than steel but also lighter than water.

Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have created a few objects that are only tiny in size, but in the future the technology might lead to a range of neo-lightweight materials.

Source: 3d Printer World

Solar panels could be grown from bacteria


Solar panels and conductive materials could one day be made from bacteria thanks to researchers at MIT.

Using E. coli, the researchers found we could, at some point in the future, have conductive materials that can grow and self-repair – at least they won’t be self-aware. 

Source: Quartz

The internet unlocking life’s mysteries


From identifying dead bodies to time travelling, the internet can be used by large groups of people to help solve the problems that life throws at us.

This list trawls through some of the best crowd-sourced investigations where strangers have come together to answer such questions.

Source: Mashable

Google Glass to get some Italian style 


Google has teamed up with infamous Italian sunglasses firm Ray-Ban to try and help bring some style to their wearable technology.

Often criticised for its obvious and at times ugly look, Google Glass is now trying to make itself blend in with other glasses. Hopefully this move will give it some big-name street credit and much needed style.

Source: TechCrunch

Image courtesy of Aurimas Adomavicius via Flickr/Creative Commons

Get DOS download for free


The infamous (and slightly dated) Microsoft DOS has had its source code made available for free to the public.

The version of the code was made when Microsoft had fewer than 100 employees and DOS had less than 300KB of source code.

The source code for early versions of Word for Windows was also released.

Source: Microsoft

Image courtesy of Tony Case via Flickr/Creative Commons Licence 

First 3D printed Kayak

Coming in at a production cost of just under $500, the world’s first kayak is more than competitively priced and it’s certainly a lot more visible than traditional kayaks.

The kayak has been made of 28 different sections and silicone is used between the sections to ensure that is is watertight.

Source: Grassroots Engineering

Blob of water

This blob of water isn’t just a blob of water, it could help to put a stop to a serious wastage problem.

The water droplet is actually an edible bottle and has been made by three of London’s best design students.

The container holds water in a double membrane, which provides hygienic protection, and works like an egg yolk

Source: Fast Company