Smartphones get awful battery life – all of them. The world of science is trying to give us a hand, but not every idea is a winner. Inspired by the recent discovery that phones could be powered by our own bodily waste, we decided to round up the strangest, coolest, and most impractical ways to give your devices a quick energy boost when a socket just can’t be found.
Battery dead? Urine luck!
Researchers from England’s University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory have found a way to convert your pee into an electrical charge, using bacteria grown on carbon fiber anodes, placed inside ceramic cylinders. Right now the cell is the size of a car battery (wouldn’t you love to lug around a car battery full of urine?) but the hope is that it will one day be portable. While it may not be the most hygienic way to charge your phone at least you’ll be able to justify getting pissed off whenever your phone dies.
Give it some Coke
Health critics may say that the sugary, carbonated drink is bad for you, but that doesn’t mean the same rings true for your cell phone. Right? Sure. China-based designer Daizi Zheng came up with a way to use pop (soda, Coke, whatever you call it) to power a Nokia phone, provided the device was modified to include a chemical board capable of converting carbohydrates and sugar into energy. Interesting concept, but uh … we’ll stick to mixing our Coke with rum, not electronics. Hopefully your phone’s warranty covers electronic diabetes.
Recharge with your sixth-grade toy
This childhood toy has never really had much of a point. It goes up; it goes down; sometimes it pretends it’s a dog being walked. (And rather unconvincingly, at that.) But a few years ago, a Swedish designer, Peter Thuvander, came up with a way to finally give the yo-yo some real purpose in life: charging a phone. The idea was simple: playing with the yo-yo charges a small battery inside; afterward, just plug in your device via USB and power up. Ultimately, the device didn’t take off on account of everyone gets bored with yo-yos after about three minutes.
Wear lingerie like this, and resistance will be futile
Nothing says “meow” like some cute new lingerie to show off to your beau, right? Absolutely, but less so when it looks like it was designed for female members of the Borg. We’re not sure the person behind this concept, introduced by Triumph International Japan Ltd, has seen lingerie ladies like to wear, but for the most part they pick the ones without wires, connectors, and massive solar panels. Any other problems? Oh, it needs to be exposed to the sunlight to work, so really, exhibitionists need only apply.
Some extra fire power
How’s this for a one-pot Quickfire Challenge, Padma? Cook up a great meal and charge phone at the same time, using the same device. That was the idea behind the Pan Charger, which not only can be used to cook up a delicious meal, but also converts that heat — whether it’s from your stovetop or the blaze of a campfire — into an electric charge that will power gadgets via USB plug. Better plan on a slow-cooked meal, though; it’ll take a few hours to fully charge anything. Utensils down, power up!
Your own personal wind farm
Wind farms generate lots of energy, so why can’t a similar idea be applied to power our phones? Well, for a start, wind farms are always built somewhere windy, like in the sea, or on top of mountains – you know, places where we usually aren’t. But that didn’t stop Netherlands designer Tjeerd Veenhoven from designing the iFan, an iPhone case that converts wind into phone-charging energy. The thing takes six hours to fully charge a phone, and that’s if the wind is continually blowing. But, we suppose you could just drive around with your iPhone hanging out the window – totally safe.
Get hot, juice up that phone
We already know that 1 in 10 people use their phone during sex. So why cut out the middle man and sleep with the One you really love. Utilizing a person’s body heat, which is converted into electricity using thermoelectric material, the folks at Vodafone are introducing these super-charged sleeping bags (complete with garish Power Pocket, guaranteed to repel potential mates) at outdoor festivals throughout the summer. Don’t expect too much though; 8 hours of snuggling up to your phone at night will give you a mere 24 minutes of talk time.
Angry? Here’s your outlet
A dead cell phone, especially at an inopportune moment, can be frustrating, or if you’re emotionally unstable, it may end in yelling. If that’s you, then why not make use of all that noise? Researchers at South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University found a way to convert a person’s voice into energy. Of course, it’s beyond impractical. One prototype required 100 decibels — the same that a jet passing by delivers — to produce just 50 millivolts of electricity. The average charger sends about four volts into a battery, so its just 3950 millivolts shy of its first target, and the din would have to continue for several hours. Hello charged battery, goodbye hearing.
A fruity idea
When life hands you lemons … spend your day attaching wires to them. There are hundreds of videos floating around on YouTube showing you how to charge mobile devices with a battery made from an assortment of fruits or vegetables. Yes, it was cool when you did it in science class, but not so much when you make a video of yourself doing it at home. The fruit charger is kind of sweet, but pretty useless.
You’re winding me up
You know that rush you get when you’re fishing, get a bite, and have to reel ‘er in? (Yeah, me either.) The Roto Charger is a concept that came out a couple years ago. It creates energy by mimicking a fishing reel. Your reward for a solid minute of avid cranking? A whopping three minutes of talk time.