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

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.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, 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.