Passive Mobile Phone powered using Energy Harvesting

as usual the headline is a bit misleading; while the phone-part is completely passive, it requires as base station that does the actual mobile network communication because the RF transmission is simply too power-consuming.

Still, the mobile part draws an average of 1mW during voice calls, according to their paper (direct link to PDF at the end of the article above). I guess that's too low for any LED stuff, but it can power a microprocessor, as they have shown, and maybe it would be enough to charge a capacitor and then flash an led every once in a while, or trigger an electrode?


  • I wonder if that would be enough power to pick up on the "Privacy Threats Through Ultrasonic Side Channels on Mobile Devices."  In case you haven't 'heard' (pun intended), that's the shady new under-the-radar advertising technique that primarily targets smartphones through legacy media, i.e. FM radio and television transmissions.  Apparently, it's really grown in popularity over the past several years.  I know there's a few companies here in the San Francisco Bay Area like Supersonic that specialize in sending adverts to mobile devices as ultrasonic ad beacons. 

    On a related note, one of the start-ups by a guy from Gaza Sky Geeks is called the "Walk and Charge" which he had to invent out of necessity due to the poor electric service in the Gaza strip.  Also, if anyone's up for making similar "power-needless" embedded/IoT-style hardware for the infrastructure side, then they could use software from the open source projects OpenBTS (Base Transceiver Station) and OpenBSC (Base Station Controller) which are both part of the umbrella project Osmocom (Open Source Mobile Communications.)  
  • That could actually make for a pretty interesting home automation device. Imagine having an RF transmitter at every doorway into or out of the house or for specific rooms and having a shoulder blade mounted "phone" or similar device that basically triggers the rf transmitters as you walk by them allowing for automation of lights in your home.

    TL;DR No more light switches.
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