Researchers at a University of Washington in Seattle lab have created a cell phone that uses Wi-Fi signals in the air to power up instead of a battery. You read that right. Thanks to Wi-Fi, you might never have to worry about leaving your phone charger at home again!
This battery-free cell phone works by using reflected Wi-Fi signals to communicate. The current prototype uses unlicensed spectrum, the spectrum in which Wi-Fi operates, from low-power base stations, but future versions could easily be built into your home Wi-Fi router or a traditional phone tower. That would give the phone and its components plenty of signals to work with so that the phone could be developed and sold as a widespread commercial product. For now, the phone remains an awesome prototype with exciting potential.
Innovations like this battery-free phone are made possible by having enough available and accessible unlicensed spectrum. Unlicensed spectrum is free and open and allows our nation’s best and brightest to experiment, innovate, and develop the newest and coolest technologies. However, they can only do that if there is enough unlicensed spectrum and Wi-Fi to go around.
Policymakers, public interest groups, manufacturers, and innovators need to work together to make sure that more unlicensed spectrum becomes and stays available, that the increasing traffic is managed effectively, and that technologies such as LTE-U don’t interfere with Wi-Fi’s ability to stream your favorite Netflix show after work, help you check in on loved ones, load Angry Birds, enjoy your cell phone battery-free, and more.
Let’s keep unlicensed spectrum and Wi-Fi open for business. Click here to stand up for unlicensed spectrum, Wi-Fi, and all of the innovations they bring!