How's this for an excuse the next time you are caught yapping away on your cell phone or singing loudly to the music on your iPod? I was just charging it! If the team of scientists from Korea's Sungkyunkwan University have their way, that is exactly what you may be doing pretty soon!
The brilliant idea is the brainchild of Dr. Sang Woo, who says that while we have tried to extract energy from all kinds of natural resources, the source of power that seems to have been totally overlooked is from the sounds that surround us. So, he decided to put them to work, beginning with the human voice.
His process simply reverses a technology that already exists - That is, instead of electric current being turned to sound as is the case with speakers, he turns sound, into electric energy. To achieve that he places tiny strands of zinc oxide in between two electrodes. When the sound absorbing plate that is over this layer vibrates from the sound of the human voice, it causes the zinc oxide strands to also vibrate, which in turn, generates electricity that can be used to charge a device like a cell phone or iPod.
The scientist who believes we can use this technology to capture energy other everyday sounds too, already has a working prototype of his re-chargeable battery. The only problem is that it needs sounds of 1000 decibels or equivalent of the sound generated by a large train or noisy lawnmower, to generate a weak electricity current. This means that one would have to constantly be yelling at the phone or singing loudly to the iPhone, making for a rather noisy world! However, the team is working on fine-tuning the technology by tweaking the zinc oxide wires and hopes to have something that is a little more efficient - We can only imagine the chaos this invention is going to cause!