May 6, 2015 weblog
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 energy 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 power 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 mobile devices 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.
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