Microsoft wants LAMP for wireless mobe charger

Kinect to spot phones so lights can be focussed on solar mobes

Microsoft Research has put forward the idea of charging mobile phones with a beam of light.

Explained in a paper titled AutoCharge: Automatically Charge Smartphones Using a Light Beam (PDF), the idea is to use a Kinect motion sensor to spot a phone, then focus a lamp on it to bathe phones in light and charge them wirelessly.

Authors Yunxin Liu, Zhen Qin and Chunshui Zha, all of Microsoft Research China, reckon solar charging is a better bet indoors than out because within walls it's easier to control the quality of available light. If one could make a light source emit useful bandwidths for charging, and automatically direct the light source to a thirsty mobile device, the trio reckon, the simple and natural act of leaving a phone on a desk would see its battery replenished.

Mobe-makers would need to use transparent photovoltaic panels to make this feasible, the paper says, noting that such devices are already on sale and suggesting it's a good idea for future phones to feature such materials. They also suggest that the light used to charge phones need not be in the visible spectrum, making charge-by-beam a viable night-stand option.

Rather than beaming indiscriminately, the researchers imagine using a camera to detect the presence of a phone and some kind of signal to tell the light that a phone needs charging. In tests the trio used a Kinect sensor to spot a phone and a motorised lamp to beam photons onto mobes.

The paper acknowledges that there's a lot of co-operation needed to get indoor solar charging happening outside of labs, but the authors feel they've proved the concept.

+Comment Perhaps a nicer way to get this going is with a lamp – or light bulb - that beams out both visible and invisible light. Such a device could be rather nicer to use than the bowl-or-pad-shaped induction chargers your correspondent has beheld. Lights are everywhere in modern homes and offices, making an upgrade a more likely road to success than a bespoke swivelling device. All of which is moot if mobe-makers don't adopt photovoltaic covers for their phones. Over to you, Apple and Samsung. ®

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