Why your mobile phone will never run out of battery again

Mobile phones and gadgets running out of battery life halfway through the day is one of the smartphone age’s biggest frustrations, but soon we will be able to charge our devices using natural light.

Watching movies, playing games and frantically refreshing emails have made our gadgets battery-intensive, leading to many people carrying spare charging cables and extra batteries.

Now two companies have created an ultra-thin transparent layer that can be embedded into electronic displays to power-up the phone and make charging routines a thing of the past.

The technology will effectively turn any surface on a mobile device into a solar panel – which will allow charging in natural or artificial light.

Three unnamed, but leading, device manufacturers are said to be working with the technology and are set to sign licences to use it at some point during in the first half of this year.

3M, who were formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, and French solar technology company SunPartner Technologies teamed up to create Wysips Crystal – an acronym which they say stands for ‘What you see is photovoltaic surface’.

The crystal surface is bonded to devices using 3M’s adhesives that are precision manufactured to eliminate common problems such as bubbling, which can distort the display, and are designed to work with existing materials and screen technologies.

The continuous charge is hoped to make devices always ready-to-use whether indoors or outdoors and eliminate the need to charge devices from a physical power source. This will not only help to preserve natural resources but also make the excuse of not answering phone calls due to a drained mobile phone battery non-existent.

Vice president and general manager of 3M’s Electronics Markets Materials Division, Herve Gindre, said: “It is exciting to see both an innovative and sustainable solution for this industry.

“We are thrilled to leverage our technical materials expertise, along with SunPartner’s unique solutions, to enable key customers worldwide to bring new and exciting possibilities to the next generation of electronic devices. This team effort aligns well with 3M’s commitment to collaborative innovation, sustainability, and improving business and people’s lives.”

While it has been around and tested for some years, experts have predicted that 2014 will see wireless charging really cut the cord and become used in the mainstream markets. Qi wireless charging is currently included with more than 60 different phones and at least 40m of them have been sold so far.

Where 3M and SunPartner Technologies’ product will be ahead of pre-existing wireless charging methods is that it will not need to be placed on a pad, or specific area to provide power, making wireless charging not dependent on a traditional power source.

Ludovic Deblois, president and co-founder, SunPartner Technologie said: “We see strong synergies to serve our customers in consumer electronics markets with the help of 3M as a trusted partner and expert in materials excellence.”

3D virtual dressing room coming to eBay

The days of grabbing a last minute bargain dress on eBay for it only to be delivered days later and not fit may be over following the website’s latest purchase.

The auction giant has puts its hand in its pockets and purchased computer graphics company PhiSix who create 3D models of clothing from photos, pattern files and other sources.

Once the software is introduced to eBay it will allow customers to see what their potential purchases will look like on their bodies before they have even placed a bid on the item.

The financial details of the deal unfortunately haven’t been disclosed but eBay’s vice president of innovation and new ventures, Steve Yankovich, praised the work that PhiSix have been doing and said that it will be of a huge benefit to eBay’s customers.

He said: “PhiSix’s technology enables consumers to understand the fit and movement of clothes in an online shopping environment.

“Consumers can experience the merchandise in a more efficient and impactful way, which we believe will drive sales for retailers and create a delightful experience for shoppers.”

PhiSix claims its technology can help to solve one of the most common problems that online shoppers face – the fit and look of products. It says that the virtual fitting room it provides allows shoppers to determine the fit with physically accurate simulations of the clothes they want to purchase.

As well as showing customers what clothes will look like the technology is also able to recommend a size for the user’s body based on the basic measurement inputs – which the customer will provide. The technology also allows shoppers to use the virtual fitting room in a variety of scenarios, such as walking down the street, rather than just being in a dressing room.

The fashion technology company is relatively young when compared to its new owners. PhiSix was founded in 2012 by Jonathan Su, a former Intel research scientist who completed a PhD in computer science at Stanford University, US.

This technology could help to enhance the shopping experience for eBay’s customers and the company is certainly hoping it will. However there will undoubtedly be a lot of teething problems and the results of the clothing which is shown on the customers will most likely depend on the level of information provided by the seller.

Nonetheless PhiSix’s founder Su is looking forward to working with his new bosses. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to bring PhiSix’s expertise to one of the world’s leading commerce platforms,” he said.

“We believe today’s acquisition will help us better scale our expertise and meet the needs of digitally-minded shoppers and create new customer experiences for the eBay Inc. portfolio.”


Image courtesy of eBay.