A device that turns ambient radio frequency waves into usable electricity to charge low power electronic devices has been introduced by Drayson Technologies.
Dubbed the Freevolt, the device consists of a multi-band antenna and rectifier capable of absorbing energy from multiple RF bands at almost any orientation. It can use energy from broadcast, mobile and Wi-Fi networks, all of which have so far been completely unusable, and turn it into a small amount of electricity.
Drayson said the lightweight device, jointly developed with Imperial College London, could power Internet of Things devices including wearable technology as well as various sensors and beacons that could be located in buildings or industrial facilities.
"Companies have been researching how to harvest energy from Wi-Fi, cellular and broadcast networks for many years," said Lord Drayson. "But it is difficult, because there is only a small amount of energy to harvest and achieving the right level of rectifying efficiency has been the issue - up until now.”
The major advantage of the Freevolt device, the firm said, is its scalability.
The first practical application of the harvester is the CleanSpace Tag air sensor – an attempt to create a crowd-sourced network of personal air sensors to be used across the UK and the world to measure air pollution.
“We were impressed with the Freevolt technology and its wide applicability to power the Internet of Things,” said Frazer Bennett, technology expert at PA Consulting Group who helped to develop the CleanSpace device.
Completely eliminating the need for cable-based charging, Freevolt will make Internet of Things devices independent not only on the grid but also on the life of their batteries.
Drayson will make the device, the first commercially available energy harvester, available through license to the international developer community.