Electronics users understand all too well the frustration of having the batteries die while in mid-use. Whether you're in the middle of a conversation on your iPad or working on a final paper for a college class on your laptop, finite battery lives can be extremely inconvenient. But what if your handy device was designed to pull electricity out of the air instead? Texas Instruments (TI), maker of the popular eponymous line of calculators and other consumer technologies, is working on a new way to create self-charging products.
According to a press release from the Lone Star State-based company, the "NanoBuck" power converter is a pint-sized processor. In theory, it is capable of both producing its own energy while also significantly increasing the amount of power that it receives from another source. TI estimates a 70 percent boosted efficiency rate, which could drastically raise the amount of operating time that most consumer electronics currently have. However, as officials from the firm stated in press releases, there are a wide variety of applications this proposed design could have.
"Imagine not having to change the battery in your smoke detector – ever," Sami Kiriaki, a vice president in the company's power production division. "TI continues to develop circuits with very low operating current and high power efficiency that can manage microwatts to milliwatts and extract ambient energy. This new power circuit gives designers capabilities not possible with traditional battery-powered systems."
It may be some time before this technology reaches the testing phase, let alone the shelves at your local electronics store. But these kinds of innovations hold the promise that more types of clean energy will be available to consumers on a more consistent basis, helping them to both save money and reduce their environmental footprint.