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Battery-free Cellphones are the Future and Closer Than Ever

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The wave of the future is no longer Dippin’ Dots, rather battery-free cellphones. Yes, you heard that correctly – a mobile phone that operates without a battery.

Researchers at the University of Washington made the breakthrough. They published their findings in the Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous Technologies. The research team also made calls with Skype to exhibit the prototype. Even more amazing is that they created the prototype using off-the-shelf components readily available to anybody. The one caveat is that currently the battery-free cell phone does require communication with a unique base station, and this does still require a battery.

A cell phone only understands digital data. This poses a problem because the phone portion of the device relies on analog signals. Analog signals carry the sound. The conversion of analog signals into digital data requires a lot of energy. One of the main purposes of any cell phone battery is to supply energy for the conversion of sound-carrying analog signals.

The removal of the battery requires a different source of energy for the conversion process. The researchers focused on this goal. The cellphone that they created collects energy from ambient radio signals, light, and, most importantly, kinetic energy. Tiny vibrations occur in the cellphone when somebody is talking or listening to a call. An antenna uses the kinetic energy to encode speech into radio signals transmitted by the base station.

The research team states that it is possible to install the base station technology into the standard existing cellular networks. Furthermore, wireless routers can include this technology so that every home with Wi-Fi can also toss out their battery-powered phones.

Battery-free, not power-free

Battery-free does not mean power-free. The prototype requires 3.5 microwatts of power, though the team is optimistic that they can reduce this further. As mentioned above, the utilized energy comes from motion, radio signals, and light. The kinetic energy derives from vibrations during a phone call. The radio signals emanate from a base station, and a rice-sized solar cell harvests light. The use of all three forms of energy allows for clear and uninterrupted phone calls.

However, the current technology only applies to phone calls. The research team is still working on applying the technology to video calls and to the more common smartphone applications. Regardless, the future is bright.

Archaeology, technology, science, movies and TV shows, video games, government and politics, reading sci-fi and fantasy, '60s/70s classic rock. These are the areas in which I spend my days (somewhere in there are food and travel...).

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Consoles

Despite popular belief, PS4 sales in the UK skyrocketed last year

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PS4 sales in the UK climbed by a shocking 633 percent year-over-year in 2023, so apparently the old system isn’t dead yet. The previous year’s very limited supply of the system is likely a major factor in this figure, since the console’s lifespan was drastically reduced because of chip shortages caused by the pandemic. Still, it’s proof that PlayStation’s original platform has unmet demand.

With the very low prices of PS4 software (both in-store and online at the PS Store), this strategy makes a lot of sense. Plus, it’s future-proof, so there’s no harm in stocking up on PS4s while new-gen pricing is still high, since if you decide to switch to a PS5 in the future, you can transfer all of your purchases across. Not to mention that the majority of new releases still come out on the PS4, with several offering free PS5 upgrades.

While the percentage rise may seem huge, real PS4 sales will probably be much lower. It’s a sign that the gadget, which is now a decade old, isn’t completely dead yet, and we expect it to keep receiving maintenance for a while longer. Of course, this is great news for Sony, because the company would rather have PS4 players playing on its last-gen gadget than none at all, even if it would love to have them upgrade to PS5.

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Consoles

New PS5 firmware is available for download!

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A PS5 firmware update on a cold winter morning is unmatched. The latest PS5 system software update is 23.02–08.40.00 from Sony. Does this one add useful features or just boost system performance?

Though closer to the latter, it’s more than Sony’s favorite patch note. It fixes security issues, improves messages and usability, and boosts system software performance. Official patch notes for this 1.185GB update:

  • We updated system software security
  • We improved system software stability and performance
  • Some screens now have better messages and usability

That’s it. PS5 gets another win to recover from its midweek slump. Do you share our enthusiasm for this firmware update? Comment below. To spice things up, make your comment rhyme.

 

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Consoles

Baldur’s Gate 3’s Xbox Version Will Help PS5

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Belgian developer Larian Studios’ work on Baldur’s Gate 3’s Xbox Series S version will improve performance on all platforms, including PS5. The game’s fifth major patch, expected to launch this week, will include upgrades and new features. More details will be revealed later today.

Director of Publishing Michael Douse says PS5 performance improvements may be the “least exciting thing” in the title’s next update, so it sounds like a big one. Larian Studios employees are proud of “finally” implementing tweaks, fixes, and changes, Douse says. Later today, we’ll bring you all the Baldur’s Gate 3 update details.

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Those who reached the RPG’s third act have reported technical issues during the narrative’s conclusion, especially in co-op, so today’s update should fix them. New features like a permadeath mode are expected, along with Xbox Series S optimization fixes. What else should be added to the game?

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