Patent application 20,100,045,241 may just be one of the most important documents of this century. Filed on August 20, 2008 by Jari Olavi, a Nokia employee, this patent is for a mobile phone that charges itself not by solar energy, but by simple movement.
Piezoelectric Kinetic Energy Harvester
In a device according to at least some embodiments, kinetic energy resulting from acceleration of a battery powered device is harvested using piezoelectric elements that are positioned to receive forces along multiple different axes. So as to increase the amount of forces on those piezoelectric elements, the mass inducing such forces is increased by locating heavier device components within an assembly that transfers forces to the piezoelectric elements in response to device translation and/or rotation. In some embodiments, the device battery can be contained within that assembly. In still other embodiments, a display, a transceiver, a keypad and/or other device components are contained within that force-transferring assembly. In response to translation and/or rotation of the device, portions of forces induced by the battery mass and/or other device components are transferred to the piezoelectric elements. Electrical energy output by these piezoelectric elements is received in a power controller and can be applied to the battery.
The same technique used to charge wrist watches is now being applied to mobile phones. Don’t expect the first models to charge smartphones that are nothing but screen, have an HD camcorder, and GPS, but realistically imagine people in Africa, India, and other emerging economies using a device that can charge itself as they go about their day. They walk to school, walk to work, walk to the river to fetch water, etc., they don’t need to walk to the man with a car batter strapped to the back of a bicycles, charging for electricity anymore.