Since our reliance on smartphones have long since eclipsed current battery technology, it may seem strange that inventors haven’t begun employing more alternative methods of energy generation and storage. The sun, magnets, and kinetic motion are all forms of energy that can be harnessed and converted into electricity to power mobile devices.
” Although computer chips have doubled in speed every few years, and digital displays have become significantly brighter and sharper, battery technology is largely stuck in the 20th century. Device makers have relied on incremental improvements to battery power, now usually supplied by a decades-old lithium-ion concoction, in combination with more energy-efficient chips and screens.” -Chen & Bilton, New York Times
Companies are beginning to research and develop alternative cell phone charging technology. Apple has tried to integrate solar panels into consumer electronics in the past, but had little success as mobile devices are often stored in pockets and purses while the owner is outside. But for their new iWatch, it is rumoured that they are developing alternative charging methods, such as an overlay of solar panels, wireless charging through magnetic induction, or kinetic charging through arm movements as the watch is worn. Just a few days ago, Apple was awarded a patent for a dual-display MacBook air with solar panels.
Samsung has also introduced new battery technology, including flexible batteries and liquid electrolyte batteries that are more stable and less prone to explosion than their solid lithium-ion counterparts. California company uBeam is developing technology that, although years from completion, can pull energy from the air using piezoelectricity. Startup Amprius is developing a storage method that involves polymer-coated silicon instead of carbon anodes, which would increase capacity tenfold. You can learn more about a few different types of wireless charging technology in this Fast Company article.