Nikola Labs phone case harvests back wasted energy

Nikola Labs phone case harvests back wasted energy

If you click on the Nikola Labs site you will find an announcement that the group plans to go up on Kickstarter soon and they invite your email signup to learn more. Then at the bottom of the page is an icon-centric presentation of HOW IT WORKS, although "IT" has no noun. What we are shown is that a WiFi signal points to a RF harvesting antenna which points to DC power. The last sentences are, "Nikola Technology efficiently converts RF signals like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE into DC power using its proprietary energy harvesting circuit. The result is usable energy that can provide power to mobile devices wirelessly."

Nonetheless, a fuller story about Nikola Labs emerged this week at a TechCrunch event where the group presented their product, an iPhone 6 case, which can harvest electricity from the air.

Mike Butcher, editor-at-large of TechCrunch, summed it up: "It converts the wasted 90 percent of the phone produces trying to pump out a cellphone signal, and puts it back into the phone, thus powering it for up to 30 percent longer."

Will Zell, co-founder at Nikola Labs, told the TechCrunch Disrupt audience that "we allow you to download from the air." He told the audience about the pioneering work of Nikola Tesla and Hertz. Their technologies, he said, have become the foundation of the consumer electronics industry but there remained "a huge problem." He said, "We are using 19th-century technology to power 21st-century mobile devices."

Consumers who scurry around for outlets, trying to get more juice in their phones, deserve a better solution, he added. The Nikola Labs technology, he said, converts radio frequency energy transmitted by into extra battery power for that device. The product is a smartphone case for the iPhone 6.

That 90 percent of energy mentioned earlier is good energy, said Zell, that could be put to use. The group's case is embedded with a harvesting antenna, which captures the wasted energy and takes it through a conversion process to convert it into electricity and then dumps it back into the phone.

He said the group was able to extend battery life by 30 percent simply using wasted energy transmitted from one's phone.

In partnership with The Ohio State University, the group pioneered the tech, he said, and are bringing the tech to the market. (The Ohio State ElectroScience Laboratory is a major center-of-excellence and one of the largest radio frequency and optics research laboratories in the world.)

Why a case? Smartphone users who would be interested in buying something to get a little more power in their phone will be likely to check out more details about the case when it shows up on Kickstarter. The Nikola Labs case is just the first product of a huge system that Nikola Labs aims to create over the next years.

In one month they will launch the case as the first product, and they will do so on Kickstarter. He said they would launch it for $99 on this crowdfunding platform.


Explore further

Video: Solar power from energy-harvesting trees

© 2015 Tech Xplore

Citation: Nikola Labs phone case harvests back wasted energy (2015, May 6) retrieved 26 March 2019 from https://techxplore.com/news/2015-05-nikola-labs-case-harvests-energy.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
1048 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

May 06, 2015
um...does that shorten the range if you sap away energy from the signal?

So many parts of this make my BS detector blip...color me skeptical.

May 06, 2015
I wonder whether Kickstarter has some fraud prevention process in place or if they just don't care since their profit is only indirectly dependent on project or product success.

May 06, 2015
"So many parts of this make my BS detector blip...color me skeptical."

Where is the 10 star icon when you need it?

May 06, 2015
Weave that into a hat, and keep from frying your brains with your phone RF while you charge it.

BTW, you skeptics probably do not work with RF and have not seen the RF smog in which we have immersed ourselves.

May 06, 2015
Well if you can graduate college and still live in your mothers basement after 20 years for free, why not free energy?

"That's not working, that's the way you do it
money for nothing and chicks for free"

May 06, 2015
Why do you resort to adolescent nonsense in a science forum?

Get an O-scope attachment for your phone, and some wire for an antenna and go out and see what you find.

Then, call someone on your phone while looking for that frequency on the scope.

May 06, 2015
So I take it Gkam you think that it is possible to harvest ambient RF energy in meaningful amounts.

May 06, 2015
BTW, you skeptics probably do not work with RF and have not seen the RF smog in which we have immersed ourselves.
Well as a matter of fact I do and have. I've personally had my hands on nearly 500 macro cells and almost that many femto / pico cells... in and around the "prized" San Francisco bay area alone, and close to twice that in Los Angeles.

A relatively recent EME survey I performed placed one 4-sector cell tower with a 60' radiating height, and broadcasting 25W per sector at PCS frequencies was 80% below accepted standards for exposure, and the utility company's transmission lines were 300% ABOVE accepted standards. Do note the tower's EME test was performed at maximum power levels and after this test were reduced to the 10-15W range.

I've even put a couple sites in PG&E and other substations and their required grounding system would pull down the ERP from the tower.

May 06, 2015
"So I take it Gkam you think that it is possible to harvest ambient RF energy in meaningful amounts."
-------------------------------------------

Did you fail to notice it captures the RF being transmitted by your own phone?

May 07, 2015
So basically a good idea for the military too. They could recover most bullets of machine guns right when they leave the barrel - would be good for the environment! :-)

May 07, 2015
"Did you fail to notice it captures the RF being transmitted by your own phone?"

Gkam you do realize that a cell phone modulates the RF output power such that only the amount of power needed to reliably reach the nearest tower is produced. Thus, if you capture a certain percentage of the power the cell phone will make up for the loss of radiated power by producing more (using more battery power than normal). Also if you are in an area of marginal signal this device will keep your phone from working period.

This device could be a poster child for everything that does not make any physical sense in the alternate power movement.

May 07, 2015
And how does it know that? By connecting? This absorbs the radiated power in other directions. Is your phone equipped with a self-homing yagi?

May 07, 2015

Did you fail to notice it captures the RF being transmitted by your own phone?


Did you fail to notice that when you sandwich your phone between your head and this case, it blocks the transmission from the phone to the base station and causes the phone to increase transmitting power to compensate, resulting in zero energy gain and your head getting irradiated by a stronger field.

This absorbs the radiated power in other directions.


It has no way of determining which direction the transmission should be going, and no way of selectively blocking the signal in others. It's a phone cover with a passive antenna built in.

It's a scam.

May 07, 2015
"And how does it know that? By connecting? This absorbs the radiated power in other directions. Is your phone equipped with a self-homing yagi?"

Gkam contrary to what others on this board might think, I don't really think that you are that ignorant. I think that you just like to argue.

May 07, 2015
Did anyone else notice how similar Nikola is to Nokia, a bonafied cellphone manufacturer? True scam artists are very creative.

May 07, 2015
I think everyone is missing out on the most obvious green way to recharge your cellphone. My product will consist of 200 feet of light gauge copper wire and a helium balloon. You just plug one end of the wire into your earphone jack, walk outside during the next thunderstorm and let er rip!

May 07, 2015
The great thing about this product is that it is guaranteed to keep your cell phone charged for life, your life.

May 07, 2015
It has no way of determining which direction the transmission should be going, and no way of selectively blocking the signal in others. It's a phone cover with a passive antenna built in.
------------------------------------------

It does not need to. Look at the phone antenna pattern, and tell me it does not overlap with this antenna. Whatever this antenna picks up does not affect the signal, which is still radiating out. When you hear a sound, does your ear soak up all the energy, so others cannot hear it?

When you tune to a radio station, does that keep it from getting to other listeners?

May 07, 2015
If you have a flashlight and a solar cell, use the solar cell to charge the batteries in the flashlight, and point the flashlight at the cell, are you limiting the amount of light that gets out to the environment to light your way?

May 07, 2015
That is a focused beam. Your phone antenna is not.

May 07, 2015
Abec don't try to explain it to him. He really does know the correct answer but is just jerking us around and laughing.

May 08, 2015
When you hear a sound, does your ear soak up all the energy, so others cannot hear it?


For the part of the sound energy that lands on my ear - yes.

A cellphone antenna is more or less an omnidirectional radiator for the part that isn't pointing at your head because it doesn't know which way the user is oriented and where the signal towers are.

When you put a cover over the back of the phone with an antenna that absorbs radiation, you block the antenna in certain directions, which the phone sees as poor reception and it increases transmitting power.

When you tune to a radio station, does that keep it from getting to other listeners?


Yes! If you place one antenna behind another, the first antenna shadows the second antenna because its electromagnetic field changes the radiation pattern in space around it.

Just the antenna being there is enough. Thankfully, home radio antennas are small and far between to really interfere with one another.

May 08, 2015
Putting something extra in an antenna's near field will change the electromagnetic properties of the antenna anyhow because of capacitive/inductive coupling. The antenna gets "detuned" and the signal diminishes.

If you remember the iPhone story where users were "holding it wrong" by touching a certain corner of the phone where the antenna was, causing the phone to drop calls.

Same thing, slightly different mechanism. If you slap a second antenna right next to the phone's antenna, the phone's antenna goes out of tune and its efficiency drops.

Cellphones operate around 900-2100 MHz where the propagation of radio waves starts to resemble the propagation of light instead of sound waves. It no longer bends or go through objects like sound would, but rather reflects and absorbs more than not.


May 09, 2015
Does it use the phone's own signal, or signal from other phones in the area? Someone tried stealing electricity on a commercial scale from radio stations in a similar way back in the 1940s or 50s and the government quickly shut them down.

I'm thinking maybe the antenna inside of a smartphone isn't the most energy efficient device, as to save space and manufacturing costs. What if this phone cover is just a bigger, better antenna? Its not whats advertised, but it could deliver similar results.

May 09, 2015
I like the way the deniers here try to tell us they are smarter than the folks who actually did it. It is good to air doubts, and bring up potential problems, but to persist until all rationality is gone is not cool.

May 09, 2015
You are correct Gkam, it kind of like the people who doubted perpetual motion 50 years or so back.

May 10, 2015
They found something useful and are getting funding to develop it.

What are you doing?

May 10, 2015
"Useful", that is the key to this whole argument isn't it.

May 10, 2015
Okay, a little science 101. If you place a coil of wire near a transmission line and put a load on the wire so it provides usable energy, are you "harvesting" wasted energy? The power company won't think so. How would they know? Geez, I thought this was a science website.

May 10, 2015
Gnome, I used to use that as a question for my students in my lectures to utility engineers. Do you know the answer and why?

May 10, 2015
Maybe the answer is in Wiki. If so, we will hear from a few folks who think they "know" the answer and why.

May 10, 2015
otto won't try that question, because he does not understand the terminology, but Eikka may take a swipe at it, having better look-up skills.

May 10, 2015
and the hustle starts,,,,,,,,
http://www.foxnew...features

May 10, 2015
This is cute, and also a scam. A scam that seems to get repeated every few months.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more