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Cellphones Power

Nokia: the Sun Can't Charge Your Phone 290

Posted by Soulskill
from the well-what-am-i-going-to-do-with-this-93M-mile-cord dept.
itwbennett writes "Nokia's research into solar-powered cell phones ended with a (barely audible) thud. Under the best of conditions researchers were able 'to harvest enough energy to keep the phone on standby mode but with a very restricted amount of talk time,' Nokia wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the prototype phone, which had a solar panel on the back cover, performed better in Kenya than in other testing locations, like southern Sweden and the Arctic Circle."
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Nokia: the Sun Can't Charge Your Phone

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  • by TWX (665546) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @09:06PM (#38580326)

    My phone resides in my pocket. Even if I left it on the dash of my car, the casing is only so large, even on my Galaxy S II. I don't see how even the most efficient of solar panels in the most effective of locations would provide enough power.

    It's noble of them to try, but at the moment I'm not surprised this was the outcome.

  • by bmuon (1814306) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @09:10PM (#38580372)

    No idea. Mechanical energy -motion and/or sound waves- seems a more likely source of power for a phone.

  • by timholman (71886) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @09:14PM (#38580396)

    My phone resides in my pocket. Even if I left it on the dash of my car, the casing is only so large, even on my Galaxy S II. I don't see how even the most efficient of solar panels in the most effective of locations would provide enough power.

    It's noble of them to try, but at the moment I'm not surprised this was the outcome.

    I don't doubt that Nokia's engineers did some quick calculations and told their managers that solar charging wouldn't be practical before this project even got started.

    And then the managers said: "It doesn't matter. It'll look great in a press release. The environmentalists will love it. Do it anyway."

  • Re:Wait what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:14PM (#38580828)

    They physically tested the phone at the equator and in Sweden and that was the only way they could figure out that the solar flux would be higher at the equator?

    Like, someone couldn't sit down at a desk with a calculator and trig it out and find out how much exactly the phone would get at 50 degrees N latitude as opposed to 0?

    Someone fucking hire me. I will figure this shit out for you. I won't even need to be flown out anywhere (though southern Italy would be nice). I'll just crunch out the numbers and they will be accurate and a lot faster than what Nokia got their results.

    --
    BMO

    Somebody sat at a desk with a calculator and trig'ed it out long before people went on the road to do the testing. Being Nokia, they may have had people in the field who did not have to travel, or, they just sent the engineers on a perk trip to do ground truth.

    It isn't really tested until you've done the ground truth.

  • by Jarik C-Bol (894741) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:24PM (#38580906)
    the same way self winding watches work. Your arm is not a windmill either. In this case, a small magnet, in a tube, wrapped in a coil, such that when the user walks, the magnet slides from one end of the tube to the other, and back again. The real trick is to figure out how to arrange this little setup to maximize the number of times the process occurs, with minimal movement.
  • Re:So basically (Score:4, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:43PM (#38581018) Homepage

    I guess you are being funny, but if you read TFA you will find that they shipped prototype phones to volunteers. For example, their volunteer in Kenya works as a security guard and was well able to get sunlight for his phone (lots of sun plus he sits in one place a lot so he could just leave the phone in the sun a lot).

    Basically this project just cost Nokia the cost of knocking out a few prototypes and shipping them. I'll bet their engineers had an idea about how well it would work, but now that they have tried it, they have data on exactly how well it does or doesn't work.

    steveha

  • by Goaway (82658) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:53PM (#38581094) Homepage

    You're thinking of this as "walking up 14 flights of stairs" but that is entirely misleading.

    Since you said "small hand crank", what you should imagine is this: Tie a rope to a person, then use a small hand crank to winch them up to the 14th floor of a building.

    It probably doesn't sound as good any more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @05:53AM (#38583132)

    You can't get more than 100mA of charging current out of a collector on the back of a cell phone.

    With a typical battery capacity of 2700 mAh, that means it would take 27 hours of vertically incident sunlight to charge your battery.

    Good luck with that.

    Maybe your phone has a 2700mAh battery that needs recharging daily. Mine has a 700mAh battery that lasts about a week. Does that sound more viable?

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