The days of charging your phone might be coming to an end. According to a report in, researchers from the University of Washington have created the first battery-free cell phone.

The battery-free phone can’t carry out all of the usual tasks of today’s smartphones, i.e., surfing the web for hours on end. However, it can transmit calls, receive calls, and message without a battery. There is a rather technical explanation in this video.

How free cell phone power works

Researchers set out to design a battery-free cell phone because the phone is now, arguably, the most important tool we carry with us on a regular basis.

The lead researcher, Professor Joshua Smith, said, “The cellphone is the device we depend on most today. So if there were one device you’d want to be able to use without batteries, it is the cellphone.”

The cell phone works by using the ambient radio waves and light in the area surrounding the phone. The phone uses the micro-amounts of energy to operate. The biggest hurdle for scientists has been generating the amount of power needed to convert analog signals to digital signal during transmission. This process uses a lot of a phone’s energy.

The UW researchers were able to get around that, by having the phone convert the vibrations in the speaker and earphone into analog signals.They accomplished this by attaching an antenna to those components with which to capture the signal.

This phone encodes the signals in reflected radio signals and uses virtually no power.

The ambient radio waves are produced by a base station that is close to the phone, approximately 30 to 50 feet away.

The cell phone does draw some power from ambient light. This light is collected in sensors that are no bigger than a grain of rice.

This small amount of energy is what allows the phone to pick up the radio signals. However, the entire phone only has 3.5 microwatts of power. Many common Cell Phones use 2.5 watts and up to function.

The encoding and decoding of the signals doesn’t happen automatically. In the prototype phone, users have to push a button to transmit and receive, similar to a walkie-talkie.

Here is a friendlier explanation of the technology.

The cell phone was made from normal materials

The free power cell phone was made from readily available parts that are already on the market. There is nothing in the phone requiring special or custom components. This is good news because it means designers won’t have to wait for parts to be designed for mass-production.

What this means to you

Technology develops fast in our culture. Soon enough this technology will enter the private sector and be developed to a more functional level for everyday users. So, don’t be surprised when you see battery-free cell phones being sold in stores in a few years.