There are two big drains on your smartphone’s battery – its screen and its processor. But there are plenty of little things that add up, too. Light sensors, proximity sensors, motion sensors… it takes a lot of power to make our phones so aware.
A new temperature sensor developed by the Eindhoven University of Technology, however, is leading the way in cutting that energy drain. It can sense temperature and send its data using the power of stray mobile and internet signals – no battery needed.
The tiny sensor (pictured above) can only send its temperature data over a range of 2.5cm, but it does work through layers of paint. At the moment that could make it useful in smartphones and other handheld gadgets, but in the future the range could be extended to up to 5 metres, making it perfect for the smart home.
Imagine buying a tin of Dulux and painting a range of sensors onto your walls. Your smart home could instantly start sensing temperature, light, humidity, smoke, motion and more, letting it do more automatically.
In our smartphones, battery life could be extended as all the sensors that constantly check our world would get their power from Wi-Fi signals. And as these new sensors are only the size of a grain of sand, phones could save space.
The best bit is, this isn’t a far-off dream. The inventors of the sensor say it’s all possible right now.