Our gadgets are getting ever smarter, but their potential is being limited by the fact that batteries haven’t advanced in years. That could soon all change, however, as universities and big businesses invest in new battery tech.
Fast charging is one area that’s getting a lot of attention. Imagine being able to fully charge your phone in just 30-seconds. How long a full charge lasts wouldn’t matter much at all.
Stanford University has developed a fast charging battery that could recharge in around a minute. It’s also flexible, which could help make flexible phones a reality, but it only holds about half the power of a normal rechargeable battery.
If spending a minute plugged in sounds like too long, StoreDot is what you’re looking for. It can charge a standard phone in 30 seconds, no new battery needed.
Some scientists are working on ways to keep our gadgets charged all the time without plugging into a wall.
Transparent solar panels have already been demoed in smartphones. They let the entire phone screen gather power to keep the battery topped up for longer.
Friction could also keep small gadgets, like wearables, topped up. It’s been shown that a fitness band on your wrist can be entirely powered by the friction between it and your skin, so there’s no need for a battery.
There’s been plenty of recent advancements in wireless charging too. Energous WattUp can charge a gadget from 20 feet away using radio waves, letting you charge up whenever you’re indoors.
Aluminium-air batteries could also stop us needing to charge our gadgets. As the name suggests, they use air to generate power by turning aluminium into aluminium hydroxide. The batteries last 40 times longer than lithium-ion ones, and as they use air, they’re super-light. The only problem is that you need to replace the battery instead of charge it, but they’re recyclable so probably won’t be expensive.
There’s loads more research into batteries going on, and plenty of the new tech is expected to be ready for sale in the next year. So it might not be long until we can ditch our chargers altogether.