A lot of attention these days is being lavished on batteries and charging, mostly because of how much we seem to be doing that every day. We’re always on the lookout for better ways to power our devices, from improvements in the batteries themselves to alternative ways of charging. While the magical “charging from thin air” is still a far ways off, the technology that can pull not a rabbit but electrical energy from thin air enough to power senors might just be around the corner if Drayson Technologies’ Freevolt is to be believed.
The concept behind Freevolt isn’t entirely new. Even as early as last year, there have been attempts to harness the wasted potential of radio signals generated by cell towers and Wi-Fi emitters into useful energy. When radio signals are emitted, they travel in all directions, regardless of where the receiver really is. As such, majority of those signals just float in the air, wasted. They can actually be transformed into energy, which is the subject of many research projects, like the one from the Ohio State University.
But many of these attempts might be a bit too ambitious. Naturally, they want to be able to power smartphones, the logical beneficiaries of untapped radio waves floating in the air. But energy radio signals are too variant and too small to make that a reliable source of energy. Draryson’s Freevolt tech takes a different approach instead. For one, Freevolt uses a multi-band antenna and a rectifier to absorb as many kinds of signals as possible.
But perhaps the most significant difference is that Freevolt isn’t concerned with smartphones. Instead, it is more interested in powering up the slowly growing number of smart devices in your homes and on the streets, the Internet of Things or IoT devices. These include the smart sensors in homes, the advertising beacons around stores, and even perhaps the fitness band on your wrist. These devices are considerably less power hungry than smartphones and can really benefit from the small servings that energy from radio frequency signals can offer.
Drayson is offering the Freevolt to developers interested in this alternative source of energy for powering small IoT devices. One of its first customers is the CleanSpace project in the UK, whose CleanSpace Tag air sensors will be powered by Freevolt as it detects the quality of air in areas where batteries and power cables are either inconvenient or even impossible. Drayson envisions such an IoT world where home sensors and the like are even simpler to install and maintain than regular appliances, because they would no longer need to be plugged in or regularly change batteries.