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Nokia To Bring Pre-Like Wireless Charging Feature To Phones

Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia is working on a technology that allows mobile phones - and possibly other devices - to charge up using nothing more than radio waves.

Nokia hopes that by 2013, customers will be able to use ambient electromagnetic radiation (AER) to recharge their mobile phones. That would be even cooler than Palm Pre's Wireless Induction charging that requires that the smartphone touches the base.

The waves could come from a range of sources - from Wi-Fi transmitters to TV masts - and would be an extension of existing technology used to power Wireless sensors and RFID tags worldwide.

For the time being, boffins from the Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge have been able to get 5 milliwatts from current prototypes and current mobile phones would require 10 times more power before considering mass market.

This in itself would not to charge but to reduce battery drain; charging would occur when the handset is switched off and is likely to take several hours. The system would need a wideband receiver to "capture signals from between 500 megahertz and 10 gigahertz".

One issue is that many other communication devices use this spectrum range as well but chances are that Nokia could end up with a technology - in the next few years - that would not only bring an end to traditional chargers, but also start a new revolution.

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Nokia is planning to use AER in conjunction with other energy-harvesting approaches such as solar cells in the phones as well. Another technology that could be envisioned is to use the body's own heat (but not electric current) to generate enough power to charge or reduce battery discharging in a mobile phone.

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.