Microsoft’s Intelligent Lamp Can Recharge Your Smartphone Through Its Light
Microsoft is back in business. Under Satya Nadella’s umbrella, the company has stabilized considerably, given its drowning past. After acquiring Nokia and unveiling the flagship Windows 10 in 2014, Microsoft has had an apparently busy year, but it seems it was even busier than it let us know.
Microsoft has now designed a lamp that will intelligently detect your phone and charge it by shining a light onto its surface, without any human interference.
Tests have shown that the light from the lamp can recharge phones fitted with solar panels as efficiently as wired charging. Microsoft Research has built a working prototype of the charging system, but it is more of a proof of the concept rather than a system that will be commercialized in the near future.
This system, “AutoCharge”, would be able to detect the phones through cameras, and angling the lamp’s beam onto the smartphone’s surface.
Microsoft researchers have written a paper which foresees three ways AutoCharge will be able to charge a phone:
- Placed on the table, will be able to charge the phone on the surface
- Hung from the ceiling, will charge any phone in the room (though providing sufficient beam strength is still an issue, Microsoft admits)
- Placed in a box, any phone placed within the same box will be charged.
Of course, the scattering of the light is a major issue when charging the device. Thus, to maximize the speed and efficiency of AutoCharge, it would give off a “straight light beam with little scattering.”
In the prototype system, the phone’s solar panels also include an LED which will give off a series of blinks, so that AutoCharge’s camera may detect the device which needs charging. According to the prototype, it takes a maximum of three seconds to detect the signal.
For people wondering their phones are not equipped with solar panels, Microsoft Research has also catered to that problem. It suggests a transparent film, similar to those provided by Wysips, could be placed over the screen and the rear of existing devices to facilitate charging.
Then what if you are at a gathering and multiple phones are being detected by the camera? It will accurately pick out a phone by evaluating the extracted depth of the cameras in its view. In case multiple phones are placed on the same desk, the charger will charge them one by one.
To get around the problem of people being annoyed by the shining of a visible light, the system may use an infra-red light beam, which can’t be seen by the human eye.
The prototype used the head of an UltraFire CREE XM-L T6 Focusing LED Flashlight to generate the beam of light. The strength of the beam would not pose any sort of safety hazard, according to Microsoft researchers, as a larger part of the energy is converted by the PV [photo-voltaic] panel into electricity and thus generates even less heat.