Renewably-Powered Cell Phones are Cool, But Realistic?



Samsung Crest Solar phone; image via Unwired View

News has come out that rather than Samsung sending out their (sorta) solar-powered Blue Earth phone to the market of patiently waiting greenies, they're sending out a much cheaper Crest Solar. Like the Blue Earth, it incorporates a solar cell that can gather about 5 minutes of talk time from about an hour's worth of sunlight. At the same time we caught this news, we also heard word that Nokia is working on a cell phone that charges with ambient radio waves. Charging cell phone batteries with renewable energy sources seems to be getting closer, but what types are practical, and what will win out in the long run?We've seen great ways to charge cell phones via renewable energy come up - from GotWind's solar and wind charging tents to using pedal power when you cycle. But so far, the options have been external. Cell phone companies are now working on internal methods for cell phones, making them self-charging with renewable energy. But is it practical?

Solar Energy Is Useful, But In Small Doses
Solar cells are one thing, helping to grab a few extra minutes when you leave your phone in the sun. But there's only so long you can do that before the action goes from generating electricity to damaging electronics. Unless we move quickly forward with finding radically efficient solar cells, this isn't an option that'll take cell phones off external power sources.

Could Kinetic Energy Be A Better Bet?
Kinetic energy is an appealing option, considering how often we walk around with cell phones jostling around in our pockets and purses. Not only is there a possibility of using the kinetic energy generated when we move around, but possibly even when we talk or as we open and close the cell phone to use it. Gathering kinetic energy in amounts large enough to fully charge a phone's battery, though, is also still off in the distant future.

What About Radio Waves?
And now this fledgling technology to convert radio waves from Wi-Fi transmitters, cell-phone antennas, TV masts, and other sources into electrical energy to perpetually charge cell phone batteries, which researchers say could be ready in three to four years. Though, let's be realistic, seeing this type of wireless charging technology in cell phones on the market is a lot farther away than three to four years...

Still Waiting To Go Truly Cordless
So while companies are working on incorporating alternative energy generation into cell phones, there isn't a practical option available right now - or even in the near future - that would really work. Disappointingly, it looks like despite these new developments in cell phones, we're stuck with cords, even when they are attached to a solar charger, wind charger, or some other device that effectively gathers up renewable energy. Or, if you're determined to go cordless, fuel cells - also still an impractical option, unless it's for emergencies.

More on Interesting Ways to Charge Cell Phones with Renewable Energy
Charge Your Gadgets with Small-Scale Renewable Energy
7 Best Ways to Charge Your iPod Without an Outlet
The Mini Kin Offers Cheaper Option for Personal Wind Charger
UK Technology Writer Takes His Electronics Off-Grid

Tags: Alternative Energy | Cell Phones | Concepts & Prototypes | Electronics | Gadgets | Solar Power | Wind Power