back to article iPhone case uses phone's OWN SIGNAL to charge it (forever, presumably)

A new Apple iPhone 6 case harvests energy from the smartphone's radio transmissions and use it to charge the battery, its developers claim. Nikola Labs, which touted the product at TechCrunch Disrupt on Monday - and which was selected to pitch to the crowd there "after being selected by the techCrunch editorial team and and …

  1. RosslynDad
    Thumb Up

    Asymptotic

    This helps reverse that worrying decline in articles that don't use the word "asymptotic". Well done Ed. More please.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forgetting for a moment that it couldn't possibly run off its own signal without reducing the range, lets assume it works by harvesting 'ambient' electricity. In that case it would be theft of utility from the transmitter not to mention a real pita to anyone trying to get a signal.

    1. Cliff

      It harvests energy proportional to the inverse of neural activity. Probably be sold on the woowoo shelf of health food stores that also sell stickers to block 'unhealthy' radiation from mobile phones using the power of tachyons and some pretty holograms. And woowoo.

    2. Nicocys
      Joke

      "not to mention a real pita to anyone trying to get a signal"

      You're not holding it right.

  3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    *cough* *cough* ahem!!!

    "Vulture Central is quite sure that our readers will really get behind this device and not pooh-pooh the mobe-charging claims one bit. Right?"

    Yeah, because we'd never do that...

    1. Code For Broke

      Re: *cough* *cough* ahem!!!

      I don't get the point of this post.

  4. cirby

    Physics

    So... they're lowering output signal strength to make the battery last a little longer? So the phone will automatically use even more power most of the time to try and talk to the nearest tower?

    Do tell.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Physics

      Exactly.

      Why would Apple make a phone that used more energy than necessary to power its radios when battery life is a competitive selling point?

      It would more sense for the phone to disable its own WiFi, Bluetooth and 4G when they are not being actively used - like the Stamina Mode on some Sony phones.

      Given the size of this proposed case, you might as well get a cheaper 'battery case' and increase your phone's battery life 50% +.

      1. Ralph B

        Re: Physics

        To be most efficient, I think this case should also include a screen-facing solar panel. That way, any of the light emitted by the display can be recaptured for charging the battery.

        Since all wasteful* function-related EM emissions - visible and invisible - will now have been prevented, the phone will now serve no useful purpose when inserted into the case, and so can be switched off.

        If this is done, I predict that battery life could then be extended to be whatever it is when the phone is switched off.

        * Since the idiot buyer of this case will only have been using the phone for yabbering to similar idiot friends, or using social media, casual gaming or dating apps, then ANY functional use of the phone can been classed as wasteful. Better to switch it off, if making it explode is not a technically or morally acceptable option.

  5. Schultz
    Thumb Up

    Just don't forget ...

    to take off the case when you want to use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or LTE.

    Otherwise, it sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea. Maybe the phone could also feed some power back into the grid via wireless charger during times of peak demand -- harness your phone battery for the smart grid!

  6. streaky Silver badge

    Uhhmmmm..

    30%.

    The phone's entire radio usage probably doesn't use 30% of its battery life, if you pile on inefficiencies and losses, I can't imagine how you get to 30% eating all the energy from radio emissions - and you need some of that energy to get out regardless, else your phone won't communicate with anything.

    To get to 30% you have to be claiming you're getting energy from nothing, surely?

    Edit - just been reading engadget's article that fawns all over this thing:

    The harvesting antenna and DC power-converting rectifier circuit

    It's those bomb detectors in Iraq all over again.

    Dr. Lee's reputation as the former chair of Ohio State's Electrical and Computer Engineering gives this seemingly kooky outfit some much-needed credibility

    What reputation exactly. I see no credibility anywhere.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Uhhmmmm..

      Oh come on, you're not giving it a chance. I'll bet they thought of the fact that they would need to recover more power than the radio uses so they likely also have a photovoltaic panel sitting over the display to capture the wasted photons to convert to electricity as well. I'm sure it's all been well thought out.

  7. Snivelling Wretch

    What's missing?

    I think we need Stephen Fry to explain it, that's what.

  8. simmondp

    ... the company will shortly be releasing a companion perpetual motion machine....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...and the perfect encryption scheme: any arbitrarily sized block of data encrypted as a single bit.

      1. Radelix

        Don't forget about the Law Enforcement mandated easy decryption

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > ...and the perfect encryption scheme: any arbitrarily sized block of data encrypted as a single bit.

        Well, that's possible today. All you have to do is encrypt first and then compress¹ using a sufficiently lossy algorithm. If it's lossy enough to really live up to its name, it should be capable of giving you one-bit cyphertext, which should also be quite resilient to any form of plaintext recovery attack not involving crystal balls².

        What's this company's website again? I'd like to apply as their Chief Information Security Officer.

        ¹ The opposite as conventional norm when using non-lossy algorithms.

        ² Or rubber hoses.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          > ...and the perfect encryption scheme: any arbitrarily sized block of data encrypted as a single bit.

          Well, that's possible today. All you have to do is encrypt first and then compress¹ using a sufficiently lossy algorithm.

          It's always been possible, and can be done with lossless compression.

          What's difficult is encoding three arbitrary messages with a single bit.

      3. Red Bren
        Joke

        I have created such an encryption scheme, but the decryption key is exactly the same size as the original file...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ... and don't forget this is aimed at Apple users.

  9. The last doughnut
    Thumb Up

    At last! Endless chat and kitteh pix.

  10. msknight Silver badge

    Doesn't surprise me

    When I'm recording video at home using a lapel mic, I've got to turn the iPhone to airport mode because it blats all over the audio track even when it's on the other side of the room. The other phones I have don't do that. *sigh* - I don't know whether to class that as a success or a fail.

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: Doesn't surprise me

      FCC Part 15 regulations state that equipment is not allowed to step all over the frequencies of other equipment.

      That's a big Apple FAIL if it "blats" all over the audio track you are recording.

      1. Bob Dole (tm)

        Re: Doesn't surprise me

        >> That's a big Apple FAIL if it "blats" all over the audio track you are recording.

        I've experienced this issue with every iPhone I've owned - 5 of them across different generations. I've also experienced it with quite a few other non-Apple devices.

        Sure, the regulations state what they are or are not allowed to do but from what I can tell regulations are meaningless until a company gets hit with a lawsuit. Then they pay a small "settlement" fee and quietly change their product. It's not like the government actually *tests* every single device that hits the market.

        1. Andrew Meredith

          Re: Doesn't surprise me

          @ bob dole "It's not like the government actually *tests* every single device that hits the market"

          Actually they do. The US requires FCC EM testing and there is a comparable CE EM standard.

          1. Anna Logg

            Re: Doesn't surprise me

            CE does not require testing, manufacturers can self certify based on their own judgment call on whether testing is necessary or not; although they still need to present information relevant to the product to a Notified Body.

      2. Nick Stallman

        Re: Doesn't surprise me

        Unless the wireless mic is using frequencies it isn't supposed to be, then too bad.

        1. msknight Silver badge

          Re: Doesn't surprise me

          It's cabled :-)

          Similar to this - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lavalier-Lapel-Condenser-Microphone-MIC-for-DSLRs-Camcorder-Video-Camera-/111433905878?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item19f1fa76d6

        2. Anna Logg

          Re: Doesn't surprise me

          Pretty much all cellular radio technologies vary the amplitude of the radio signal itself at a frequency within the audio range, so there is a finite possibility that audio equipment (particularly equipment with high gain and relatively poor screening) will be sensitive to this modulation and produce an audio output from it. Particularly so with GSM IMX.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Doesn't surprise me

            In order to be sold in USA, it must pass its FCC testing and get its little FCC logo and details on the back.

          2. Code For Broke

            Re: Doesn't surprise me

            Now that's the kind of comment I come hoping to read. Thank you.

  11. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Ah.... Reminds me of this

    Not my work, courtesy of a b3ta user:

    http://www.jamielandegjones.com/humour/b3ta/misc/alternative_energy.gif

  12. Ben Liddicott

    Morons.

    Just... morons. Like the "smart road" which harnessed the motion of vehicles to generate electricity...

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Morons.

      "

      Just... morons. Like the "smart road" which harnessed the motion of vehicles to generate electricity...

      "

      While I cannot see the above idea as being practical or cost effective, it does have the advantage that each device on a busy road would get quite a bit of energy from thousands of heavy vehicles running over it per day so is at least feasible. In contrast, the total amount of EM energy impacting on the small area of a phone case would be down in the microwatt region except from the phone it is covering, which would be a few mWh at best over an average day - way below any level that would make any significant difference to the battery's charge state.

      1. Ben Liddicott

        Re: Morons.

        No, because the energy captured by the road results in a higher effective rolling resistance to the car. It's just a disguised petrol generator.

    2. MrXavia

      Re: Morons.

      Actually the smart road has some merit, your only capturing existing vibrations and converting to electricity, the vibrations themselves have no purpose...

      Although a better idea is to have roads made from some form of solar/thermal energy capture, since they are exposed to sunlight for much of the time...

      The iPhone signal harvesting is like driving a car on a treadmill..

  13. gloucester

    30% of 30% is?

    @Ed: Surely that 30% recoup could only be re-applied to itself, not the whole initial 100% charge, so 30% of 30% is 9%, 30% of a further 9% is 2.7%, etc. The total tending to c. 142.857% (i.e. 42 odd % increase in charge time).

    I suspect though the harvesting isn't that efficient, so the 30% quoted is the overall increase, so efficiency of 23 odd percent. Still high but perpetual motion (or kittehz) it isn't.

    1. Bob Dole (tm)

      Re: 30% of 30% is?

      You're really thinking about this too hard.

      They picked a number out of the air... Something not too small so people are interested but not too big so that they can't come up with 1000 reasons why *you're* particular phone isn't getting the 30%. It's called "marketing speak".

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: 30% of 30% is?

      Isn't it basically continuous compounding, with an additional term representing the amount consumed over time? Looks like ~135% total unicorn-battery-life to me.

      Of course the whole thing is nonsense.

  14. Chas

    Err...

    2nd Law of Thermodymanics anyone?

    =:~)

    1. MyffyW Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Err...

      @Chas well said that man.

      Now consider the combination of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, plus use of the word "Asymptotic", and throw in a kooky outfit called "Nikola" and this is starting to sound like my kind of summer reading....but not my kind of consumer electronics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Err...

        Err... is that spelt 'snake oil'?

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Err...

      As Homer Simpson once said, "Lisa, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics"

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      "

      It's certainly possible to pick up a useful quantity of energy from ambient electromagnetic waves - an old band I VHF antenna connected to a capacitor via rectifying diodes will give you enough charge to light an LED after a while, and you could probably power a small CMOS circuit from it.

      "

      No, not enough energy to be all that useful unless you are extremely close to a high power transmitter. An exceptionally strong signal into a full-size aerial would give you 100mV at the aerial socket, which assuming a 75 ohm load impedance would amount to 100uW of power.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Voltage from EM waves

        I remember a school demonstration using a klystron that could light a very small incandescent bulb connected to a tuned dipole, but that of course does not need rectification. Silicon diodes need several hundred millivolts to overcome the junction potential, germanium diodes just behave like capacitors.

        I did once manage to produce a rectified DC large enough to deflect an AVO to 5V - using a 5kW cavity magnetron a few metres away, and a microwave diode. It was pointed at the outside corner of a building on the 1st floor, but with hindsight I wouldn't recommend this experiment.

        Based on this and a few other RF experiments over the years I have come to a conclusion about the feasibility of this product, and concluded that it simply isn't expensive enough. Like directional OFHC speaker cables and multi-screened low capacitance coax that improves stereo separation on digital signals, if it doesn't cost over $1000 it can't possibly work.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Voltage from EM waves

          We used to light a small neon bulb by putting it close to the output stage on an HF transmitter. If the colour was purple it was supposed to indicate parasitic oscillations. In which case you fitted a parasitic stopper to the anode circuit - unless there was one already fitted in which case you removed it.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Voltage from EM waves

            That's too much hard work.

            I use a field strength meter.

  16. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    What's new about it?

    That was described in a fair bit of detail by Robert Heinlein in Waldo, ages ago...

    What next - Magic, Inc.?

    Looking at these people - so smug, as if they've built the Gay Deceiver...

    OK, I know, that's enough already... :-)

  17. Slap

    I'm calling bollocks here

    I'm calling bollocks here, however I do maintain an open mind and would like to see independent testing regards to signal degradation in combination with the amount of power harvested. 30% is a wild claim and without that testing this remains in the same category as magic balls, cable lifters and $2000 interconnects in the audiofool world - bullshit and snake oil.

    1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: I'm calling bollocks here

      www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/how-snake-oil-got-a-bad-rap/

      ...just sayin'.

    2. The First Dave

      Re: I'm calling bollocks here

      Given that they are sending the power back to the phone via wireless charging, I would seriously doubt that it can get more than 30% of _harvested_ power back into the phone once all of those losses are dealt with.

      I would doubt that the phone is using as much as 30% of its power for its radios - the display is usually a bigger drain than the processor, and that is bad enough.

      And, of course, I doubt that anything of that sort of size can harvest more than 30% of the RF in the air.

      So, what is 30% of 30% of 30% ?

      Oh, and what is the efficiency of the battery?

  18. Pookietoo

    Actually I think it might work ... sort of

    Assuming the phone antenna is pretty much omnidirectional most of the signal is going nowhere useful, so you can "harvest" around half of that with an inductor on one side, and subsequently you'll have to point the other side towards the mast. The only problem is that you'd want to put the inductor on the side that's against the user's head (because the signal in that direction is attenuated anyway) which won't work too well with the screen. But if you're willing to put up with the hassle of a directional phone you might as well engineer one with a directional antenna, that wastes a lot less power transmitting in the first place.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Roo
        Windows

        (Re) Corner Reflectors

        "You can build a reasonably effective corner reflector for mobile phone out of a couple of cornflakes boxes and some tinfoil. If you make it to a reasonable standard, you can gain 1-2 dB of signal on 900 Mhz. But obviously it's directional."

        I was torn between clicking the 'report abuse' link and up-voting. :P

    2. Kanhef

      Re: Actually I think it might work ... sort of

      If you had a material that could be controllably transparent to radio frequencies (similar to a liquid crystal watch display) and a way to determine the direction of the mast in use, this might actually work. Make the part of the case in the direction of the mast radio transparent, changing as the user moves. The blocked signal could be absorbed to reclaim some energy, or reflected to boost signal strength.

  19. Nick L

    Steorn? Is that you?

    Anyone remember Steorn? Free limitless energy, demonstration soon! *

    *-cancelled. Then again. Then showed something that wasn't free limitless energy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Steorn? Is that you?

      One of many. Thanks for the reminder, I was struggling to remember the name...

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Steorn? Is that you?

      And that reminded me that back in the Good Old Days of the web (circa 1998), I had read and bookmarked a site which contained, among other things, a nice collection of thought experiments on various sorts of perpetual motion machines, with explanations of why they wouldn't work.

      Hmm... I think it might be this one. Good stuff. Comments in the source say it was created in 1996. Ah, those were the days, even if we were already in Eternal September.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I have to refuel my lawn-kid-chasing robot.

  20. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

    There is a way to get more energy...

    Another commenter wrote here that radio signals don't account for 30% of the total energy output, but I know what does - the screen. Now if you could have a really efficient solar cell blocking the screen out, you'd be able to recoup even more energy.

    That's tongue-in-cheek of course, but it's saying much the same thing as recouping "lost" radio energy i.e. it's complete bollocks

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: There is a way to get more energy...

      But if there was a way to only emit photons from the screen in the direction that the user is viewing it from ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is a way to get more energy...

        But wouldn't that require expenditure of energy to locate the user's eyes AND to redirect the screen output in the appropriate direction? Plus there's matters of Strabismus (the eyes aren't coordinated and look in different directions) or the presence of more than one pair of eyes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is a way to get more energy...

          "But wouldn't that require expenditure of energy to locate the user's eyes AND to redirect the screen output in the appropriate direction?"

          Next up from Apple; DLP arrays with each mirror carrying a directional OLED pixel, using Samsung's existing eye detection system which Apple's Comrade Popov invented first*.

          I need to get one of my American relatives to apply for a patent, quick.

          *As I recall in the days of the Soviet Union every American invention had been invented in the USSR first by a peasant named Popov. It made you wonder why the Soviet Academy of Sciences needed all those members.

  21. Radelix

    Came for a proper el reg comment bashing

    left satisfied

  22. x 7 Silver badge

    This proves the existence of "The Law of Conservation of Stupidity"

    I'd love to see the patent application - if there is one

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The Law of Conservation of Stupidity"

      Er - there is no conservation of stupidity. Like entropy it increases all the time. This should be obvious because stupidity is the outward sign of lack of mental organisation. If you place a stupid person in a room with an intelligent person and start an argument, the intelligent person becomes more stupid and so does the stupid person. This is how stupidity differs from heat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The Law of Conservation of Stupidity"

        It has to be that way otherwise there'd be no economists or other "social scientists". And then where would we be.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "The Law of Conservation of Stupidity" -"And then where would we be."

          Still pretending you can control human nature based on laws from an early Bronze Age book. If you date the start of economics roughly from Sumerian temple records, the human race was a small and threatened species right up till then - whereupon things started to take off. Economic planning pays dividends, as Joseph explains to Pharaoh before getting the next to top job. And the social scientists and psychologists have been in the vanguard of the demolition of sky fairies. Physics may remind us that the first chapter of Genesis was produced by very definite non-scientists, but it's anthropology that explains how the worship of gods evolved as a mechanism of social control.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: "The Law of Conservation of Stupidity" -"And then where would we be."

            Still pretending you can control human nature based on laws from an early Bronze Age book.

            I fear anti-intellectual bitching about the humanities and social sciences is a staple of Reg discourse. You'll never get that boulder to the top of this hill.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The Law of Conservation of Stupidity"

        "there is no conservation of stupidity. Like entropy it increases all the time. "

        Stupidity increases all the time, entropy on the other hand is less certain!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "The Law of Conservation of Stupidity"

          "Stupidity increases all the time, entropy on the other hand is less certain!"

          True, the entropy of an isolated system eventually reaches a maximum - though for the universe as a whole expansion means entropy always increases. But stupidity also reaches a maximum in an isolated system - when the ability to reproduce is compromised.

  23. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Trollface

    But is it scalable???

    Just think... scale it up and power houses, offices, and factories! No more of those nasty power plants to foul the water, the air, or (in some cases) not generate a nuclear disaster!!!! Why it could even power such cars as the Tesla without ever having to stop at a charging station. Wow...!!!!

  24. Number6

    For Sale: One Bridge (slightly used)

    Anyone want a bridge? I'm open to offers on several, located in various parts of the world.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: For Sale: One Bridge (slightly used)

      Ooh! ooh! I'd like one with an opening roadway if you've got one; it's for a theme park I'm building.

      Perhaps in part exchange you would be interested in shares for my self butchering pig project?

  25. Trollslayer Silver badge

    PA efficiency

    The PA + antenna combination used in phones is less than 50% efficient.

    Oops

  26. ma1010 Silver badge
    Joke

    Thinkfluence in action

    It's just like that new electric car they're working on. Going to blow Tesla away. While it has electric motors hooked to two of the wheels, it's got electric generators hooked to the other two, so it recharges itself while you drive!

    I'm sure Lord Bong is involved in both these projects somewhere.

    1. Kaltern Silver badge

      Re: Thinkfluence in action

      All they need to do now is add a SKERS system (Steering Kinetic Energy Recovery System - my invention, already patented in Albania), and a PKERS (Pedal... you get the idea), combined with a standard KERS system, and I bet you I could put more energy into the motor than is being used.

      Now I've solved the world energy crisis (because there is one), I've some free time. Anti-Electro-gravity generator powered by Dark Energy, anyone?

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Thinkfluence in action

      My car has that, but the generators are only activated when I press the break pedal, so some of the kinetic energy gets recovered as electricity rather than being wasted as heat in the break pads.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thinkfluence in action

        My car has that, but the generators are only activated when I press the break brake pedal, so some of the kinetic energy gets recovered as electricity rather than being wasted as heat in the breakbrake pads.

        Please?

        1. x 7 Silver badge

          Re: Thinkfluence in action

          Old technology. British Rail had regenerative braking back in the late 1960's on the Class 50 diesel-electric locomotives which ran between Crewe and Glasgow. It was felt to be a good idea to save fuel over the Tebay/Shap/Beattock climbs.

          One problem - the locos were diesel-electric, not electric so there was no power supply to dump the regenerated power into when braking. The onboard batteries weren't up to the task (they couldn't provide motive power anyway) so the electricity had to be dumped into the coaches as waste heat. Great in the middle of winter, but bloody awful in the middle of summer in an air-conditioned coach with fixed windows.

          When the locos later moved to the Western Region the regenerative gear was ripped out: too much of a PITA to justify retention.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thinkfluence in action

            I thought it was the Class 76 electric locomotives on the Woodhead line (1950s-60s) which had regenerative braking, as this was a 1.5kVDC overhead line. The Class 50 had rheostatic braking, i.e. motors used as generators in reverse dumped energy into a heat load. This reduces the wear on the wheel brakes, but does not recover any energy.

            Regenerative braking for cars does have its problems, as I discovered when all the brakes on my Prius gunged up from sheer lack of use. I thought at the time, having paid for them to be dismantled and cleaned out after a lack of success on my part, that the design could have been improved.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thinkfluence in action

          > Please?

          Maybe he's driving a French automobile? It'd be really thoughtful of them for your conveyance to break on command rather than at random.

        3. Paul 195
          Stop

          Re: Thinkfluence in action

          When you press the break pedal, the wheels fall off. And then the car stops.

  27. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Sometimes, to get things done you gotta work outside the law.

    Of Physics.

  28. x 7 Silver badge

    The laws of physics aren't laws. They're really the limits to physics.

    Limits imposed by our collective lack of imagination

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Science as a social construct

      "The laws of physics aren't laws. They're really the limits to physics.

      Limits imposed by our collective lack of imagination"

      This bit of sociological fluff is why people continue to believe in perpetual motion machines (of which this phone case is an example.)

      The laws of physics aren't limits; they are consistent rules that describe how things work. The law of conservation of energy has been demonstrated to apply on micro and macro scales, and every time an exception seems to have been found (e.g. beta emission) the result has simply been to find a new conservation mechanism (neutrinos in this case.) You are confusing the legal sense of laws (stuff written down in a book about what you are allowed to do that becomes very flexible according to the amount of money you pay your lawyers) with the scientific sense (stuff written down in books based on experiments which, every time and in every place, show a consistent pattern of how things work, and no matter how much you pay a physicist you won't get a personal exception.)

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Science as a social construct

        This bit of sociological fluff

        ...has nothing to do with sociology. It's just bullshit. No need to insult other disciplines in pointing that out.

    2. MSLiermann

      "The laws of physics aren't laws. They're really the limits to physics.

      Limits imposed by our collective lack of imagination"

      I have a good imagination, but I can't imagine a universe where this statement is anything other than 100% bullshit.

      1. x 7 Silver badge

        Newton's imagination didn't allow him to consider relativity. It was only when Einstein (and others) came along that that logjam was broken.

  29. Six_Degrees

    How much powdered unicorn horn does it need to operate?

  30. lambda_beta
    Linux

    Limits imposed by our collective lack of imagination

    Does this mean we don't have to eat if we crap?

  31. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    Fantastic

    Add 1000 more covers to the phone and power YOUR WHOLE HOUSE!!!!!1111

  32. jimbo60

    Think of the benefits!

    Please, people, let's focus on the positives here...

    - No more blaming weak signals on "holding it wrong".

    - Your iPhone will finally last an entire day.

    - Your iCoolness factor goes up another notch.

    - None of that stray wasted energy will contribute to climate change, so Al Gore approves.

    - Your energy savings can offset some of Al Gore's jet's emissions.

  33. AndyJenk

    Tortoise and the hare

    The editor seems to believe that the hare can never catch the tortoise. He uses the same 'logic'. 20% of each UK transaction goes to the government in VAT. Of course the Government doesn't really get all our money after 20-odd such transactions. Or does it?

    1. Code For Broke

      Re: Tortoise and the hare

      Huh? Wait... I think I understa... Nope. Still don't. Draw me a picture maybe?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Tortoise and the hare

        Huh? Wait... I think I understa... Nope. Still don't.

        I think he may be complaining about the claim in the article that the "30% recovery" series diverges (or "asymptotically" approaches infinity), when in fact it's convergent - and indeed only about 1.35, if my calculations are right (they may well not be). Whatever. It's hardly an important point.

  34. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    It will never launch

    First it will be 0.5 ready

    then 0.75

    then 0.875

    then.........

    (waits to see if anyone gets it)

    Paris, cos she always gets me charged up :-)

  35. Ru'

    This sounds like a great product, but I have it beaten. I have discovered that the iPhone (and, in fact, lots of other phones) can not only accept a charge but CAN ALSO OUTPUT POWER from the charging port (USB in the real-world, some fancy fandango thing if it's in the Apple garden).

    My new product (kickstarter link to be added) takes this wasted power and uses it to charge a battery. Much more efficient than RF harvesting!

    To the bar; we're rich!

  36. smartypants

    Wind turbine idea

    There seems to be a lot of skepticism about this idea, and perhaps it wouldn't work, but I have often wondered if a small wind turbine attached to the bottom of the case could recharge the phones during conversations, especially those with lots of 'P's an 'F's in them.

    It could also be reversed to give a cooling breeze, useful when having a heated discussion with a call centre.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Wind turbine idea

      Given how much of a pain hand crank chargers are when they're actually under load (read: charging), I don't know if wind has enough oomph to defeat the resistance.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Wind turbine idea

      Bah. I connected my phone to a portable water wheel. My battery never runs down, as long as I only use the phone next to a suitable stream.

      That ... that is what they mean by "streaming data", isn't it?

  37. Steve Martins

    Its quantum...

    Surely for this to work it would have to use some fancy kind of quantum trickery, so I guess that so long as it inside the kickstarter enclosure it can simultaneously be thought of as both fully functional and complete hokum.

  38. hi_robb

    Erm

    I'll bet they'll ask for a fortune for this, when IMHO there should be no charge...

  39. Identity
    Boffin

    Remember Zeno?

    Q: If Achilles covers half the distance to his destination every day, when does he arrive?

    A: Never

    (Of course, at some point the distance is so small as to be negligible, and impossible in the physical world not to negotiate...)

    Even giving the 'inventor' the benefit of the doubt, eventually the charge will be so small, it won't power your phone for the smallest fraction of a picosecond.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Remember Zeno?

      "Q: If Achilles covers half the distance to his destination every day, when does he arrive?"

      Question needs to be qualified. If "half the distance" is measured as of the start of his journey (which would make sense since most people travel relatively uniform distances), then the answer is obviously "two days". Your answer assumes "half the distance" is measured as of the start of each day.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Remember Zeno?

      Zeno's Dichotomy Paradox is only a paradox if you don't understand the concept of a convergent infinite series.

      Of course, once you do, it serves as a handy informal argument that the limit of Ʃ(i/(xi)), for any real x in (0,1), is 1. That is, what works for "going half the remaining distance on each iteration" obviously must also work for "going one-third the remaining distance", etc. There's nothing special about "half the remaining distance".

      (The paradox as originally formulated divides the unit segment in the other order, with the infinitesimal at zero. Whatevs; it's the same thing, addition being commutative.)

  40. Jonathan Richards 1

    Oo! Optional upgrade!

    A case to go around the first case, which will harvest another 21% (30% of 70%) of your precious battery power. Now you're close to doubling battery life! Working title for the Case Overcase: Faraday Cage.

  41. tempemeaty
    Go

    TAP (Technology Atrophy Prevention)

    Well, if a certain amount of the signal was crawling back over or through the casing material and becoming a waste energy, why not reclaim it. It's innovation. It's something that most corporate paper pushers in their own internal "Four F" psychology/mentality will never grok. That makes it an imperative for those who operate in a mentally better place to push the envelope to prevent technology stagnation and atrophy.

    ლ(╹◡╹ლ)

  42. Deltics

    And for their next trick...

    They will incorporate PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) into the Wi-Fi transreceiver on the device, enabling you to recharge the battery directly from the Wi-Fi signal whilst connected to a PoE equipped access point.

    So obvious it's staggering no-one has thought of this before !

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: And for their next trick...

      They have. Been considered for over a century. Thing is, the case charger has one key advantage: point-blank range (your idea falls flat because the charging capability falls off quadratically over distance--twice the distance, one-fourth the power).

      1. Nicocys
        Mushroom

        Re: And for their next trick...

        Does it work if you place it in a microwave then ?

  43. pauly

    Tesla

    Didn't Nikola Tesla have this all figured out 100 years ago?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Tesla

      According to the Internet, Tesla had everything figured out. The man's hagiographers know no bounds.

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