No More Chargers! Wysips Breakthrough Turns Phone Screens into Solar Panels

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It's not just a Powermat killer. It could potentially kill all chargers for mobile gadgets. Tonight we had a chance to get a demo of Wysips breakthrough technology, which layers a thin, transparent photovoltaic film on top of a phone's display. This film captures solar energy--or even energy from a nearby light source--so you don't have to hunt for an outlet by the middle of the day. Maybe not ever again.

As you can see, the prototype device this French-based company showed off is definitely rough around the edges, but Wysips says its working with mobile display companies, phone manufacturers, and carriers to integrate its technology into handsets. The film is superthin (less than 100 microns), and the technology is so efficient that smart phone makers should be able to stop bulking up the batteries. That means leaner devices that charge without you have to lift a finger.

Get more details, pics, and a sweet video of the Wysips tech in action below.

When we asked whether a Wysips film would affect touch accuracy, president Ludovic Deblois said that it wouldn't have an impact, even if it was a glasses-free 3D screen. In the video, you can see that the voltage meter shows that the Wysips film is sipping energy when placed near a lamp, but it could also be light coming through a window. When Deblois covers up the film, the meter reading dips. Wysips also showed us an prototype film overlaid on the iPhone 4, but it was a bit dark. A final product would be directly integrated into the LCD.

According to Wysips, the technology will fully charge a typical cell phone battery in 6 hours of outdoor light, but it would take longer indoors to fully juice a handset. With the second-generation technology that will arrive next year, you'll have enough juice for 30 minutes of talk after just an hour of charging.  While those times seem long in comparison to typical AC or USB charging, this is all done with light and occurs seamlessly while you use the phone. Plus, the phone is always sipping energy--unless it's in a pocket or purse.

So what about timing? Wysips says it hopes to see its technology integrated into phones, eBooks, and tablets within the 12 months. This is pretty amazing stuff. Check out the video below and let us know what you think.

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Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  • ngongpah joseph konwufine Says:

    i need a solar phone now because we don't have electricity in our area but don't know where to fine one,

  • CorneliusChui Says:

    I think the solar panels effiency at this moment is very poor. Therefore , they can not convert the convert the complete solar heat into energy. This thing is great, but has no commercial viability, just a proof of concept.

  • robert merrrill Says:

    I wonder how long it would take to integrate this technology into building and vehicle windows. that would be a revolution in clean enery, even if it only provided 10% of a house's/office building's power, that would be fantastic. And as a previous post mentioned, it would also bolster electric/hybrid vehicle output.

  • Mac Fan Says:

    Love that this version will work on the clear screen surface instead of the cover like the older Macbook optional solar covers did. It may not be able to fully charge the device for a full days worth of use but it might be enough to add runtime to a device or give you that emergency charge you need when every other power source is not available. Like if you got lost hiking, snowbound, accident in the middle of nowhere that kills car battery, etc. With any of those emergency scenarios, being able to get a charge to call for help would be priceless, even if you did have to wait a virtual eternaty for it to build up enough. Who knows it might just take the edge off for the zombie apocolypse, end of the world survivalist types for a few seconds. (yeah probably not almost nothing really could). Anyway nice device I hope we can see it integrated in next year's phones.

  • Duder Says:

    "<i>Could this also get energy from the light your laptop or phone produces? That could mean we could have self-sustaining laptops and phone</i>"

    The best solar panels made today aren't close to 100% efficient. But if they were, it would only provide enough power for the backlight. Where would it get the extra power for the processor and whatnot? I guess it could get some more from the sun and other ambient light, but surely there's a limit to just how much power photovoltaic cells can produce.

  • Techy Says:

    You know I always figured we'd come around to this, after all we did come around to making TOUCH screens and all. Would this be helpful if placed on a laptop? You mostly use your laptop inside or outside where there's the ceiling light or the sun and whenever you not using it, it's in sleep mode saving power while when you are using it, you typically (as mention above) have a light source. Could this also get energy from the light your laptop or phone produces? That could mean we could have self-sustaining laptops and phone

  • Alexander Says:

    This will definitely change the way the world will run. People will no longer need outlets in everything they use. Everything, including boats, have outlets. No matter where people are, they will charge electronics with these photovoltaic screens. They should create these for the sides of electric cars and make them more efficient. Maybe this is the breakthrough that the world has needed to advance in technology. This could change the way we see the world.

  • Stefanos Says:

    Unbelievable!That's no nice!I've of always been thinking of this technology, i mean using solar energy, specifically in mobiles!! Brilliant!!I hope, they dont kill your project for obvious "energy" reasons. Well done, those super intelligent ideas make my day!

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