What if talking more often and talking louder on your cellphone could actually charge it? Would you stop texting so much? Electrical engineers at the Institute of Nanotechnology at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul are working on converting background noise, music and voice calls from a cellphone into electricity.
Similar to using your body movement to generate electricity to power your iPod, Dr. Sang-Woo Kim's project aims to use "tiny strands of zinc oxide sandwiched between two electrodes. A sound absorbing pad on top vibrates when sound waves hit it, causing the tiny zinc oxide wires to compress and release. This movement generates an electrical current that can then be used to charge a battery" — like ones in a cellphone.
Dr. Kim's research looks promising, but it's not quite ready for prime time. In its current stage, the technology can't generate enough electricity to charge a cellphone...yet. Kim says he hopes that his team will be able to modify the materials in the oxide wires with nanogenerators which would produce more electricity at lower sound levels.
Sounds fantastic, but when that time comes, will people even talk on their cellphones anymore? Research has shown that making calls with a cellphone is spiraling downwards as texting, Tweeting, instant messaging and sending messages on Facebook is rising.