New battery may allow users to recharge cell phones just by talking

Talking on cell phone

Of the most important features in a mobile device, a solid battery life remains key. Luckily for us all, researches in South Korea have reportedly discovered a new way to recharge cell phones using nothing more than the power of the human voice. That’s right, talking — how convenient!

According to the Telegraph, engineers at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, have developed a new type of battery that’s capable of transforming the energy in sound waves into electrical energy that can be used to power a wide range of devices. When used with a mobile phone, the technology can gin up a charge using not only speech, but all background noise — the louder the better. It even works when the cell phone is not in use.

“A number of approaches for scavenging energy from environments have been intensively explored,” said Dr. Sang-Woo Kim, who has been involved in developing the technology . “The sound that always exists in our everyday life and environments has been overlooked as a source. This motivated us to realise power generation by turning sound energy from speech, music or noise into electrical power.”

The sound-power technology wouldn’t only be useful for powering up your iPhone, says Dr. Sang-Woo Kim. It could also hold the answer for a more practical recharging method for electric cars.

“Sound power can be used for various novel applications including cellular phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles,” he says. “The latter development would have the additional benefit of reducing noise levels near highways by absorbing the sound energy of vehicles.”

The new type of battery works using a sound absorbing pad that vibrates when hit by sound waves. This vibration is then transferred to tiny strands of zinc oxide wire, which contract and release with the vibrations, turning the energy of sound into electricity.

The battery is still in small-scale form, meaning it only works with very low-power devices. But the research team is confident that its energy-scavaging creation will eventually find its way onto a smartphone spec list in the not-too-distant future.