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Nokia: the Sun Can't Charge Your Phone

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the well-what-am-i-going-to-do-with-this-93M-mile-cord dept.

Cellphones 290

itwbennett writes "Nokia's research into solar-powered cell phones ended with a (barely audible) thud. Under the best of conditions researchers were able 'to harvest enough energy to keep the phone on standby mode but with a very restricted amount of talk time,' Nokia wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the prototype phone, which had a solar panel on the back cover, performed better in Kenya than in other testing locations, like southern Sweden and the Arctic Circle."

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it should have been (5, Funny)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580316)

a tablet then

Re:it should have been (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581062)

or switch to Intel chips. I keep reading how Intel is just about to ship a really low-power chipset for cell phones in just a few months.

Of course, I've been reading this for about 5 years now.

Why did they think this would work? (5, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580326)

My phone resides in my pocket. Even if I left it on the dash of my car, the casing is only so large, even on my Galaxy S II. I don't see how even the most efficient of solar panels in the most effective of locations would provide enough power.

It's noble of them to try, but at the moment I'm not surprised this was the outcome.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (5, Insightful)

bmuon (1814306) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580372)

No idea. Mechanical energy -motion and/or sound waves- seems a more likely source of power for a phone.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (5, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580648)

Mechanical energy -motion and/or sound waves- seems a more likely source of power for a phone.

They don't have the power density of a solar cell and the mechanical energy approach would add considerable mass.

Looks to me like they'll just have to figure out how to make a much lower power cellphone. That process will be limited by the need of the phone to produce sound that one can hear.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (2)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580848)

I'm thinking the limitation will be the amount of power used when communicating with the local network. When transmitting, cell phones blast out a fair bit of RF power, on the order of 1 W, if memory serves. Audio, on the other hand, is easy to do with 10 mW or so when the speaker is near one's ear. Moreover, even in standby mode, phones still periodically connect to the local network which requires bursts of high power.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (4, Interesting)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580896)

...or, you know, sell a separate battery and a stationary solar powered battery charger. That would avoid the size constraints on the solar panel and the exposure problem.

The only problem with that obvious approach is that such a charger couldn't be used to sell expensive phones under the pretext of Nokia being environmentally-friendly and all the associated fraudulent propaganda. ...and so the project is scrapped.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580974)

such a charger couldn't be used to sell expensive phones under the pretext of Nokia being environmentally-friendly and all the associated fraudulent propaganda. ...and so the project is scrapped.

I actually don't see why they killed it. I would have paid an extra hundred bucks to have a phone with a longer battery life. My Galaxy S II barely gives me a day, if with a solar panel it would give me a day and a half, at least it would last without problems until I get home from work. Worth it in my books.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581084)

You don't have electricity where you live? You can get a USB charger for household mains, cars, boats, airplanes - all manner of civilized accoutrements. You could even charge your phone while wasting your time here at Slashdot! At least you'd be doing something useful.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581146)

They killed it because it didn't work. Didn't you even read the summary or the article title? Although they should have been able to figure out that it wouldn't have worked based off calculations before they left the office. I'm cynical so rather than give them credit for testing prototypes, I think they must have known it wasn't going to work, but tested it anyway as a PR stunt.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581192)

Adafruit has this, sort of, would need some packaging, its geared towards hardware hackers, Solar LiPo charger [adafruit.com] plus Minty Boost [adafruit.com]

Re:Why did they think this would work? (2)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580656)

This is probably a smarter option.

Even if you can't charge your phone fully with tech like this, at least you can extend the standby time.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580834)

Did you invest any thought into this before posting? How exactly do you extract energy out of movement (assuming in-pocket)? Your pants aren't a windmill.

Sounds waves is almost as dumb.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (5, Insightful)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580906)

the same way self winding watches work. Your arm is not a windmill either. In this case, a small magnet, in a tube, wrapped in a coil, such that when the user walks, the magnet slides from one end of the tube to the other, and back again. The real trick is to figure out how to arrange this little setup to maximize the number of times the process occurs, with minimal movement.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (2)

jimmydigital (267697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581206)

Your arm is not a windmill either.

I like to stand in front of windmills to cool off...

Re:Why did they think this would work? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581288)

WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY. GOOD NIGHT.

Morbo feels sorry for the idiots who implemented the Slashdot filter.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580852)

The energy burned walking up 14 flights of stairs is enough to charge a phone fully.
W = F * dx = 65kg * 9.81m/s^2 * 10feet/story = 1944 Joules
3.7 Volts * 2.0 Amp-hours / 1944 Joules = 13.7 stories

This assumes that the generator is 100% efficient and that you want to fully charge a phone with a 2000mAh LiIon battery.

That's not bad at all though, if a handcrank could be made small enough.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (3, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581094)

You're thinking of this as "walking up 14 flights of stairs" but that is entirely misleading.

Since you said "small hand crank", what you should imagine is this: Tie a rope to a person, then use a small hand crank to winch them up to the 14th floor of a building.

It probably doesn't sound as good any more.

Sound waves don't carry enough power (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580876)

A 100dB sound pressure at 10cm (lets assume you can achieve that by screaming very, very loudly into the phone, say when you're talking to your boss ;-) will have a sound power of maybe around 90dB (sound power & sound pressure are two different things).

As sound power is referenced to a level of 1 picowatt, 90dB represents an actual acoustic power of 0.001 watts. This is how much power you're putting into that scream. The phone only sees a small part of it, the rest 'leaks' into the surrounds (letting the neighbours three doors down overhear your latest 'performance review').

I can't see that charging a phone any time soon. Even microphones, which are specifically designed to be as efficient as possible in converting sound waves into electrical signals, usually require pre-amplification before you can do anything useful with the signal.

As an aside, the very low power levels associated with actual sound waves is why most stereos / home theatre setups are grossly overpowered. I have a 65w per channel amplifier, and with some custom-built high-sensitivity speakers, I've never turned it up much above -20dB, and that's painfully loud. That's less than 5w per channel...
(Note: really low-frequency *does* require a lot of power, as it needs to move a lot of air to get the same sound pressure level, which is why subwoofer amplifiers are often rated at 5-10 times the main amp - my sub has a 450w amp in it, for example)

Re:Why did they think this would work? (5, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580396)

My phone resides in my pocket. Even if I left it on the dash of my car, the casing is only so large, even on my Galaxy S II. I don't see how even the most efficient of solar panels in the most effective of locations would provide enough power.

It's noble of them to try, but at the moment I'm not surprised this was the outcome.

I don't doubt that Nokia's engineers did some quick calculations and told their managers that solar charging wouldn't be practical before this project even got started.

And then the managers said: "It doesn't matter. It'll look great in a press release. The environmentalists will love it. Do it anyway."

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580524)

Do we work for the same company?

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580652)

Were you there for the mass sponge migration too?

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581386)

That sounds like a great company actually in that the management actually heard and believed the engineers (even if they went ahead with the plans). More typically the management just goes ahead and starts the project rolling full steam before asking engineers if it's possible.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (-1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580944)

If Nokia the son can't charge your phone, maybe it because he maxed out all of his credit cards. Just ask Nokia the father to charge it for you.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580416)

Would it not make sense for them to still use this idea to some extent, though? Put some solar panels on the phone just to give that extra little bit of battery life. It would probably increase the fluctuation of how long one charge will take you on the thing, but on days that it gets plenty of sun, you could probably get some noticeable effect of this sort of thing. As another poster said, mechanical energy might be more likely to use for this, but what about both? You'd still want to charge your phone, but these ideas could lead to longer battery life, at least.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (5, Interesting)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580480)

No need. Have you used a Nokia low-end phone lately? They can go two weeks without a charge. Seriously. I just lent a friend a 2320 for use while in the USA and it lasted a full 15 days. And yes, they made calls on it! Amazing.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (2)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580570)

But try doing that on any modern smartphone... Compared to today's smartphones, even the old dumbphones of years passed didn't have much of a need for something like this. Now, we're in an age of smartphones that are having less and less expectation to even make it through the day. My Galaxy Nexus lasts 15-20 hours pretty easily under low to moderate use, but that's terrible compared to the last dumbphone that I had, which I would regularly forget to charge it for a night and not have to worry that it was going to be dead in the morning. Personally, aside from maybe aiming for a dumbphone that wouldn't ever need charged at all, I would see smartphones being a pretty big market for this sort of technology.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (5, Funny)

ewieling (90662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580746)

My Motorola V3M has the battery life of a smart phone and the features of a dumb phone. Worst Phone Ever.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580638)

You can get cheap solar battery chargers. In the right climate this phone might charge okay with one of those.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580932)

Sometimes I miss battery life. I remember my first brick I owned I took it to America for two weeks and didn't bring a charger. I got angry that it ran out in 1.5 weeks.

My N900 in comparison, died in about 8 hours under heavy web use and maybe 15 hours with little use.

My Galaxy S with CM7 lasts around 10 hours under heavy web use and maybe 2 days under very light use. >_

Re:Why did they think this would work? (3, Interesting)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580558)

Would it not make sense for them to still use this idea to some extent, though? Put some solar panels on the phone just to give that extra little bit of battery life.

It's probably cheaper and more effective to just give it a bigger battery.

Re: External Cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580444)

What did they do, try using it like a calculator? Why not have a larger group of solar-cells that would mount on a car-top? Or just unroll to place on the ground, even? Not knowing the particulars it is tough to call here. But it seems possible. SOmetimes you just have to GET outside the box you're in.

Re: External Cells (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580682)

Such devices already exist, eg. the SolarMonkey [powertraveller.com] .Supposedly it works okay.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (4, Informative)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580456)

You can get 0.5W panels about the size of a smart phone for $2.00 [seeedstudio.com] . considering they only have a ~5w/hr battery it should be possible to get an 80% charge in 10 hours. The problem being that solar power drops significantly when not in direct sunlight, partially covered, through glass, not perpendicular... etc.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580644)

Not to mention, what percentage of the time is a celphone in a place it can practically recieve sunlight, if you are going to do solar, you have to at least wire it to your whole shirt, hat, or something that has a decent surface area, and does not sit in your pockets

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

jimmydigital (267697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581276)

You can get 0.5W panels about the size of a smart phone for $2.00 [seeedstudio.com] . considering they only have a ~5w/hr battery it should be possible to get an 80% charge in 10 hours.

Most places you only get about 6 hours of good solar power.. you also have to keep in mind that the conversion to charge isn't 100% efficient and the phone will be on.. even in standby drawing power. Now I have seen a 5 watt 12v panel that's about half the size of a sheet of paper that would work well.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (2)

J0nne (924579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580510)

Some places don't have reliable power, and it would be pretty beneficial for Nokia if they could sell a phone that had this advantage over other phones aimed at the 3rd world market. As it is now some people now charge their phones by going to special charging shops where you hand over the phone and they hook it up to a charger fed by a generator.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580680)

You'd probably be better off fashioning a generator out of a washing machine motor and a few small components than hoping to have enough sun when you need it to power the phone.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580960)

I have a portable radio/flashlight from LL Bean that has a little handcrank which can be used to either charge the device itself or any other device connected via USB. Twenty minutes of turning the crank takes my phone from dead to ~30% charge, is not at all tiring, and has the added advantage of working at night. I think that would be a better solution for third world phone charging than solar cells. Maybe even put the crank right on the phone, though that might make it too clunky.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581048)

Some places don't have reliable power, and it would be pretty beneficial for Nokia if they could sell a phone that had this advantage over other phones aimed at the 3rd world market.

... because there is a lot of money in these places?

Re:Why did they think this would work? (2)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580538)

Where this might work is for the outdoorsy people who are in the woods, but not out of coverage (especially 911 coverage). I know people already bring portable solar recharging stations along with them. Something like this helps by increasing the amount of other equipment that could be included in the trip.

Cell phones need to be fairly low-powered to be powered directly by straight sunlight. There isn't much surface area for the solar cell, and the efficiency goes down when holding it to the ear. Not to mention, the efficiency isn't amazing to begin with, and degrades with use due to scratches, drops, and other normal usage effects.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580612)

Think trickle charge of an off-state phone to send out that emergency SMS/TXT.

Imagine if you were buried in an earthquake with a flat phone... Oh never mind...

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580874)

Stop spreading your right-wing, capitalist 1% lies. iPhones work 30% better off of solar power and organic tomatoes cure cancer. It's a fact.

Re:Why did they think this would work? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581346)

Why should you need to be able to put the phone into a positive charge, aka "lots of power"?? Generating enough power to simply neutralize standby or even diminish it is incredibly significant by itself and could probably add anywhere from small amounts of time to substantial ones merely by basically adding a small amount of charge from solar energy.

So basically (5, Funny)

Deathnerd (1734374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580342)

They spent god knows how much money and time to send this team of researchers around the world to exotic locations to talk on a cellphone with a solar panel duck taped to the back of it? Where the hell was THAT career option on career day?

Re:So basically (-1, Flamebait)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580352)

Don't worry. The money came from a government green energy research grant, paid for by the taxpayers.

Re:So basically (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580440)

Swedish tax payers are used to getting abused by their government. No worries.

Re:So basically (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581196)

I believe in this case you mean Finnish taxpayers, but same rules apply.

Re:So basically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580384)

besides which you can get a much larger external charger, that will in fact charge the phone, if at standby.

Re:So basically (3, Interesting)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580454)

I think they released this information to show that other offerings were bogus.

I've been interested in a solar cell that could run my phone in even very cloudy weather. I also wanted it to charge/run a radio, a flashlight and recharge some batteries though not all at once. It would cost between $200-$300US for one that can run and charge my phone or do any of the other individual tasks and be rugged enough for my needs.

Re:So basically (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580842)

They considered roping the solar panel duck to the phone, but tape was cheaper and more effective so they went with that.

Re:So basically (3, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581018)

I guess you are being funny, but if you read TFA you will find that they shipped prototype phones to volunteers. For example, their volunteer in Kenya works as a security guard and was well able to get sunlight for his phone (lots of sun plus he sits in one place a lot so he could just leave the phone in the sun a lot).

Basically this project just cost Nokia the cost of knocking out a few prototypes and shipping them. I'll bet their engineers had an idea about how well it would work, but now that they have tried it, they have data on exactly how well it does or doesn't work.

steveha

Sure it can (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580370)

But the solar panel will be much bigger than the phone. Solar power has always been quite weak, especially for something as power hungry as a cell phone. The fact that solar is going so far today is only the result of large, well-designed panels.

Re:Sure it can (1, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit351 (1968158) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580504)

if only the parent company of this internet web site chat room message board didn't already [thinkgeek.com] sell [thinkgeek.com] many [thinkgeek.com] products [thinkgeek.com] that contract your statements [thinkgeek.com] , i might not think you were an idiot.

Re:Sure it can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580664)

I use 1 of the Freeloader Pros when I'm out camping. It works great, it will charge my Samsung Epic in about 6 hours. There's a built-in battery that you can pull from when your phone is finished charging.

Re:Sure it can (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580702)

I realize that you're a troll, but look at the images, that last one in particularly is like 10 times as large as the phone it's charging.

Re:Sure it can (1)

MichaelKristopeit353 (1968162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580962)

ur mum's face're a troll.

all the others except the last one in "particularly" are like 1 times as large as the phone they are charging.

you're an idiot.

Re:Sure it can (1)

MichaelKristopeit353 (1968162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581114)

the truth = flamebait.

slashdot = stagnated

Re:Sure it can (1)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581308)

I use the JuiceBar when charger when camping/biking. It's a great little unit that uses solar power to charge an internal battery, which will then charge your devices whilst you sleep. The challenge is keeping it exposed to the sun but secure whilst you're out on the trails.

Re:Sure it can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580528)

The government subsidies don't hurt either.

Re:Sure it can (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580710)

Solar power has always been quite weak

Except that solar calculators work(ed) quite well, even on indoors light. Yes, I realize they presumably used an incredibly low amount of power compared to a phone, and I agree with most of the other comments (e.g. a phone is usually in one's pocket).

Still, it seems to me that keeping a phone on standby is far better than nothing.. It at least would increase the time between recharges.

...Sigh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580414)

This research shows one thing, for now the phone and the charger still need to be separate.

I can see a separate charger that folds or rolls out, creating a large enough surface to harvest enough energy from the sun for a full charge or ideally: for a couple of full charges; you then connect the phone to this charger (which has stored the energy internally) at your convenience.

Re:...Sigh... (2)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580486)

You can buy some things that are similar to what you're talking about already. I've actually got a kinda small one that won't do much while using my phone with like everything on, but if the phone's sitting idly, it'll charge it pretty well. This one's not quite as much as you're talking about--it does have a battery that it puts the charge into, but it's actually pretty small and really only meant to keep the charge off of the panel more consistent (makes a light more solidly on as opposed to flickering on a very similar panel without the battery; this is just my very limited understanding of it, so I could be off on why they have a minimal battery on the thing, but that's the way the sales guy was describing it to me when I bought it). However, if they even started selling these with phones, that would be pretty cool in itself (though I think it's more of a niche market--most people I know don't really charge the phone in sunlight very often...)

Philips sells a solar USB battery/charger (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580446)

A combo solar USB battery/charger: http://shop.philips.co.uk/store?Action=DisplayProductDetailsPage&Locale=en_GB&SiteID=rpeeub2c&productID=202504800 [philips.co.uk]

So, you can charge the battery via USB or via the solar panel. Now, how long it takes to charge the battery . . . it might help if you live some place where there is a lot of sunlight . . . like on Mercury.

I used something similar a while back on vacation in Portugal in summer . . . the solar charge of a whole day wasn't able to top off my cell phone at night.

Hey, but if you like to pretend that you're green, leave it out on your towel at the beach . . .

But does it extend battery? (2)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580464)

I mean, if I can have this in combo with a battery that would be moderately cool. If it maintained standby power and I only drained from the battery when actively using the phone I'm sure it would reduce the frequency I'd have to recharge. Surely that's worth something.

Re:But does it extend battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580500)

That part is already working.
Nokia tried to create a cell phone that would never have to be charged.

Re:But does it extend battery? (3, Informative)

sfm (195458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580576)

Unfortunately, letting the phone sit on the dash of your car while
charging causes it to heat up, significantly reducuing the life
of your lithium battery. A better choice is to use an external
solar panel to ship power ot your phone (which is tucked safely
away, out of direct sunlight). So have we come full circle on this ?

Success via Different Approach (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580496)

Rather than making solar-powered phones, Nokia have pretty much solved the problem already by making simple high-efficiency phones like the 1280, which can run for 2 weeks between charges.

Re:Success via Different Approach (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580816)

My phones for the last 5 years (Motorola and LG) have both run 2 weeks on a charge.

Nokia's Been Researching Solar Power? (4, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580520)

This explains why they kept getting closer and closer to windows. Maybe now that they've realized this isn't the way to go they can get back on track.

rimshot

Maybe if they took the phone outside they'd get better results. All the imperfections in the windows are probably cutting into the amount of actual power the device gets.

rimshot

Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Re:Nokia's Been Researching Solar Power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580796)

You are trying waaaaay too hard, sir.

Re:Nokia's Been Researching Solar Power? (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580860)

I thought they should use the Track OS too but they didn't listen.

Re:Nokia's Been Researching Solar Power? (1)

jjoelc (1589361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580928)

Maybe if they were allowed to OPEN the WINDOWS...

Thanks folks, I'll be here all week... Don't forget to tip your waitress!

My cocktail napkin agrees (3, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580536)

You can't get more than 100mA of charging current out of a collector on the back of a cell phone.

With a typical battery capacity of 2700 mAh, that means it would take 27 hours of vertically incident sunlight to charge your battery.

Good luck with that.

Nokia's Mythbusters episode (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580562)

Only lacked an exploding battery, and, well, trying another approachs, like wearable solar charging clothes (could be the next fashion, or at least for cellphones for soldiers, police or other professions with uniforms), or taking energy from other sources (heat from body or environment, sweat, walking/running, or even heartbeats)

Look closer to home (5, Funny)

not_surt (1293182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580568)

Like many in the developed world I carry a considerable surplus fuel stockpile on my abdomen which it would be nice (and perhaps healthy) to take advantage of.
Maybe a combination if an in-body blood sugar energy harvesting [wikipedia.org] rig and inductive charging coils on each hip? If your fuel stockpile is running low then make it a solar charging rig with a symbiotic algae/cyanobacteria in the skin to produce sugars from sunlight.

Re:Look closer to home (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581332)

Or you could always use pee [bbc.co.uk] to generate your own power. You could stick some electrodes into your bladder, or if you're the squimish type, you could just do it the traditional way and refill your phone with fresh pee every 6 hours.

No wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580594)

I nearly always keep my cell phone where the sun does not shine.

Re:No wonder (2)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580910)

Right next to your head?

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580598)

Did they try hurling the phone directly into the sun? I bet the battery would charge so fast it would explode!

Alternative (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580600)

The way I see it is the same as how a solar batter charger won't run the electronics in you vehicle. That solar charge, despite being inadequate to RUN things still works to charge the battery when there is no load, though it may not be fast nor will it be horribly convenient.

Even if the phone cannot charge itself enough to stay alive, it could essentially bring up the battery enough while off to have sufficient power to turn back on and make a phone call or two. Ever been horribly lost? Had your phone die, and you're quite confident you could get reception otherwise? Perhaps its even a phone with a GPS!
That solar feature would be GREAT even if you could only get the power to run the phone for ten minutes.

It seems like a bit of a waste, and I'm sure it is, but it can still prove useful should a situation arise.

On the other hand, if I could get a hold of a phone with a crank on the side to charge it up, you can bet I'd use it. ;) I'm not a picky person and I could care less about the visual appeal of my phone. As long as it's functional, I'm happy.

( The new Iphone has a fair bit of real estate on the back that could be used for a solar panel, but it's also a power hungry monster. )

On to the next idea (5, Funny)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580628)

A nuclear powered phone.

Re:On to the next idea (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581096)

solar powered flashlight

Re:On to the next idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581358)

well there's a bright idea

Re:On to the next idea (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581388)

Solar energy is nuclear energy...

Samsung E1107 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580650)

Well, I wonder what I've been doing then with my Samsung E1107 from time to time.
It's certainly not as fast but it works and if you ever get lost you won't be one of those poor sods in movies.

Wait what? (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580658)

They physically tested the phone at the equator and in Sweden and that was the only way they could figure out that the solar flux would be higher at the equator?

Like, someone couldn't sit down at a desk with a calculator and trig it out and find out how much exactly the phone would get at 50 degrees N latitude as opposed to 0?

Someone fucking hire me. I will figure this shit out for you. I won't even need to be flown out anywhere (though southern Italy would be nice). I'll just crunch out the numbers and they will be accurate and a lot faster than what Nokia got their results.

--
BMO

Re:Wait what? (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580828)

They physically tested the phone at the equator and in Sweden and that was the only way they could figure out that the solar flux would be higher at the equator?

Like, someone couldn't sit down at a desk with a calculator and trig it out and find out how much exactly the phone would get at 50 degrees N latitude as opposed to 0?

Someone fucking hire me. I will figure this shit out for you. I won't even need to be flown out anywhere (though southern Italy would be nice). I'll just crunch out the numbers and they will be accurate and a lot faster than what Nokia got their results.

--
BMO

Somebody sat at a desk with a calculator and trig'ed it out long before people went on the road to do the testing. Being Nokia, they may have had people in the field who did not have to travel, or, they just sent the engineers on a perk trip to do ground truth.

It isn't really tested until you've done the ground truth.

Re:Wait what? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581236)

It's possible that they calculated that such a device might possibly be useful to people living in adverse conditions, who might be willing to sacrifice normal use cases (e.g. leaving it on the dashboard of the car when not in use, instead of carrying it in a pocket) if it meant they'd have access to a phone. So they sent it to some people who might be willing to try it, to see if it would actually work out that way. It didn't.

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580982)

I don't think you could possibly be cheaper than fed-exing two phones to two different parts of the world with the instructions - turn on and leave in sun...

Sounds like the old 'What is the volume of this Ligh Bulb question"....

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581034)

This could easily have been done on a fifty Euro budget, top to bottom, plus the employee time to do the reports and such.

Nokia is based in Finland, so Sweden is essentially local--it was something like 30 euro to go from Helsinki to Stockholm on the party boat, so a lot of Finns would go there on the weekends for kicks. (Or Estonia to get cheap beer.) They may have just had their local office there. Employees typically had a cool developmental phone on hand, so this might have been one of them.

A lot of their software development is done by African immigrats; I knew a few of them. So they could have simply mailed a phone to an employee in Kenya or had him take it home on a trip after they demonstrated it wouldn't work near the Arctic circle.

why on the phone? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580704)

I'd think they'd be better off making a snazzy clothing accessory and marketing it with the phone instead. Solar vest, maybe? Vests are just waiting for an excuse for a comeback. There are already backpacks with solar panels, but those aren't really practical for non-students.

Solar Powered Charger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580762)

Would it be such a jump to simply create a solar powered phone battery charger with a battery that you swapped out on a daily basis much like how we have to recharge our phones every night at the moment?

Re:Solar Powered Charger? (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581130)

I've got one. Its a solar panel with charge control and an internal battery. It can be placed in direct sunlight and charged in about a day. Once charged, it will charge anything with a USB power plug from its internal battery.

I'd guess that most phones spend most of their time deep in someone's pocket. This charger can be left where the sunlight is best. Also, its somewhat larger than a cell phone. Building the PV cells into a phone is a compromise between small collector area and an oversized phone.

Re:Solar Powered Charger? (2)

jginspace (678908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581210)

Once charged, it will charge anything with a USB power plug from its internal battery.

Anything? Remember it's Nokia we're talking about here. They were very slow in getting into the USB-charging game and even now their USB chargers require some kind of circuitry to negotiate the connection (like on the USB port of a laptop) - you can't just plug them into a dumb USB port.

"Nokia: The Sun Can't Charge Your Phone" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580918)

Obligatory: http://fortnightlitpress.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/knapp01.png?w=480

--Reaper924

The real reason ... (2, Funny)

jginspace (678908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581134)

This research was killed by several three-letter agencies who shiver at the prospect of people not actually carrying their phones ON THEIR PERSON. Those hellfire missiles aren't cheap and they want them to hit those nasty mujahadis when they're least expecting it - having the missile crash through the roof - not blowing the poor bugger's Nokia up while it's sitting on the porch and he's sitting in the outhouse.

nokia sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581172)

I have a cheap pocket solar charger, and from a days charge it was able to bring my phone up to half a charge. Nokia doesn't know what the hell they are doing, as clearly you can get a significant charge from a small solar panel, mine is about 1.5"x3".

Why not use windup power? (1)

digitaldude99 (1861666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581320)

I have seen windup torches you can buy in the shops that allow you to charge your phone off them. This seems like a much better option than solar power. This would also work at night which of course solar panels dont. Maybe one day they will invent lunar panels ;)

been walking with sun-powered walkman 5000 days (1)

Inyu (919458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581334)

...ago, and I had to do is to wear a hand-made jacket with only 15, 5x5cm solar batteries on my back.
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