Startup Nikola Labs is bringing renewable energy to a new medium: smartphones.
The Ohio-based company’s technologyset to hit Kickstarter in the form of an iPhone 6 caseconverts your handset’s stray radio frequency signals into battery-charging energy.
As Nikola Labs co-founder Will Zell explained during this week’s TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York, more than 90 percent of your phone’s transmitted energy is lost to the environment.
But Zell, along with co-founder Rob Lee and their team, believe there is a solution by reducing, reusing, and recycling that energy.
Embedded with a harvesting antenna, the case quietly captures wasted radio frequencies (RF) and converts them to electricity, which gets dumped back into the phone.
The $99 iPhone 6 accessory won’t magically recharge your device in a matter of seconds, nor does it promise to restore your device’s battery to factory perfection. Instead, as Zell pointed out, its power-converting rectifier circuit will extend the smartphone’s life by only about 30 percent. And it will do so quite gradually.
Unlike some other charging cases on the market, Nikola Labs’ still-unnamed product aims to slow battery depletion, rather than provide a burst of energy for a fading phone.
“It’s not a spectacular, in-your-face technology, but it’s a technology that works,” Zell said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt.
And since there are no internal batteries or capacitors, which could store energy the case recaptures, the startup has created an accessory that feels and looks lighter and slimmer than some of today’s popular cases.
Nikola Labs will begin its Kickstarter campaign next month, and could be shipping cases to early supporters by September, Business Insider reported.
Leea former chair of the Ohio State University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, where the technology was originally developedgained an exclusive license from the school to turn its science into what the team hopes will be a money-making product.
The company’s next product, Zell announced, will be a wireless charger that provides near- and far-field powering solutions, whether you’re at home, in the car, lounging in Starbucks, or working at the office.