Some promising developments in mobile device power could lead to e-readers with batteries that can recharge indefinitely, or that run off wireless power via RFID wavelengths. Both could lead to a whole new user experience for next-generation Kindles, tablets, and other e-reading devices.
The University of California at Irvine has shared details of “nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement. The breakthrough work could lead to commercial batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.” The UCI team has apparently “cycled the testing electrode up to 200,000 times” without any loss of charge capacity.
Meanwhile, from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, we have WISP (see picture above), “the Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform, is a family of sensors that are powered and read by UHF RFID readers. WISPs do not require batteries since they harvest their power from the RF signal generated by the reader. The WISP is an open source, open architecture EPC Class 1 Generation 2 RFID tag that includes a fully programmable 16 bit microcontroller, as well as arbitrary sensors.”
WISP in itself may be far from an e-reader, but when you consider the minimal power requirements of e-paper screens, and the relatively modest processor demands of onscreen text display, it’s not hard to see how a platform of this kind could provide a functional e-reader powered entirely by wireless signals. Furthermore, since RFID also allows data transfer, the technology could at the least allow for data syncing without battery power, or even fullblown internet.
All in all, the next generation of ebook reading devices look likely to be far longer-lasting, and to go for much longer between charges – perhaps indefinitely. Happy uninterrupted reading, people.