What if you could charge your phone just by yelling at it?
That's the idea behind a recent collaboration between scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Nokia. The team is working to develop a prototype charger that could replenish the battery of a mobile phone using human voices, music or even background noise.
"Being able to keep mobile devices working for longer, or do away with batteries completely by tapping into the stray energy that is all around us is an exciting concept," researcher Dr. Joe Briscoe said in a statement released by the university. "We hope that we have brought this technology closer to viability."
So how does it work?
To harvest energy from sound, the team used a type of nanotechnology called nanorods, which are capable of generating electrical energy and responding to vibration in sound. For the prototype, engineers attached electrical contacts on both sides of the rod in order to transform the sound vibrations into energy and capture the charge.
So far, researchers have been able to generate five volts of electricity with their prototype, which is enough to charge one phone.
While the hope is that sound-powered devices could replace conventional chargers, Briscoe admits that sound vibrations may not produce quite enough energy to do away with current charging methods entirely.
"I believe charging phones this way could be a part of the future, but there probably isn't enough energy in sound to remove the need for conventional charging completely," Briscoe told Mashable. "It could help to reduce how often we need to charge our phones, though."
Transforming sound into battery power is not a novel idea. We first heard of a sound-charging phone that would power itself with the user's voice when a team of Korean researchers revealed their prototype in 2011.
However, now that engineers have partnered with a communications technology corporation, it seems much more likely that a sound-powered charger may soon be a reality.