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Major phone manufacturers literally have the power to change the way we recharge our smartphones. At least research professors at The Ohio State University think so. Professor Robert Lee and Associate Professor Chi-Chih Chen, both researchers at the OSU’s electrical and computer engineering department, would like to work with these phone makers to incorporate their new patented technology that harvests energy from cell phone signals that often – poof – disappear. In fact, according to Professor Lee, 97 percent of cell phone signals never reach a destination and are simply lost.

How Does It Work?

Radio waves are a high frequency type of alternating current (AC), the kind of electricity found in power grids. However, devices need direct current (DC) power to operate. The technology converts the signals from AC to DC, similar to how our charger cables work when charging our tech gadgets.

The new invention captures and converts some of the lost radio signals coming from a smartphone into direct current (DC) power, which then charges the phone’s battery. A truly renewable charge that claims it does not compromise the clarity of a phone call or transmission. This technology is built into a cell phone case, adding little weight and bulk. According to Chi-Chih Chen, “When we communicate with a cell tower or Wi-Fi router, so much energy goes to waste. We recycle some of that wasted energy.”

With this new way to recycle lost frequencies, cell phones can keep their charge juiced without plugging it into a nearby outlet. In fact, these smartphones claim to last up to 30 percent longer on a single renewable charge. However, it does not work if you’re using an offline app or game. Hopefully a major phone manufacturer will listen to these OSU researchers as well as to the “true call” for the need of renewable sources to charge the estimated 196 million U.S. active smartphones (by 2016).

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