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BLOG: Can you charge me now?
Researchers develop sound-to-electricity converter

Is your mobile phone running low on battery power? Perhaps you should start yelling at it to charge it back up.

Well, that's not exactly the case, but researchers at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea have devised a way to harness the power of sound energy and convert it into electricity.

An article from yesterday's Telegraph newspaper describes a new technology being developed with the hope that future mobile phones will have the ability to charge up merely by the sound of people's own conversations. A stimulating conversation indeed.

The new technology could also allow the phone to gain some juice through background noise simply while it's sitting on the table.

The researchers were able to create a prototype device that converted 100 decibels of noise, which is approximately the sound level of noisy traffic, into 50 millivolts of electricity. While this is not enough power to fully charge a phone, the researchers hope that redesigning the materials from which the electrical conversion device is made will increase the electricity produced from lower sound levels.

Although we may be a ways away from seeing our next mobile phone, iPod or laptop from getting a power charge from our voice or the noisy street corner, this innovation into harnessing new sources of electricity is extremely important. People are beginning to realize our dwindling supply of fossil fuels and their hefty toll on the environment. We need to think of new ways of powering our ever-increasing gadgetry-filled lives.

Innovative electricity solutions like this one open up ideas for new possibilities for powering our electronic devices. Just imagine if you could power your laptop simply by typing on it. Want to recharge that wireless mouse simply buy sliding it across the table? We can already regenerate electricity when braking in cars such as the Toyota Prius. Watches like Seiko's Kinetic technology keeps watches powered without a battery simply by the movement of the wearer's wrist.

Something like sound, we think of simply as that: something we hear. Now we learn that it's a potential source of electricity. What other "mundane" forms of energy are we not thinking of? The possibilities are simply electrifying.