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Could our phones harvest electricity from the air?

A new iPhone 6 case claims to be able to harness waste radio signals from the air and convert them into power, giving an innovative way of prolonging the phone’s battery life.

US-based company Nikola Labs came up with the smart new iPhone 6 accessory, and although the case doesn’t actually charge your iPhone, it can slow the rate at which the battery drains.

The thing works by feeding on residual RF energy in the surrounding environment, which it then converts back into power, prolonging the device’s battery life by up to 30 per cent. Nikola Labs showed the $99 (£65) case off at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, which is currently underway in New York, and already it’s received a lot of positive buzz.

Will Zell, the company’s co-founder, said: “We allow you to download power from the air. Our case is embedded with a harvesting antenna that is proprietary that captures wasted RF energy and then takes it through a conversion process to convert it into electricity, then dumps it back into the phone.”

Nikola Labs is currently planning to launch the case through Kickstarter in June, with a view to having it on the market within the next 12 months. But they aren’t stopping at just an iPhone case.

“Our next product that we’re going to bring to market is a wireless charger that will provide near-field and far-field powering solutions to meet you as a consumer where you are, whether that’s at home or in your vehicle,” Zell said.

Quite how well the case will work in the wild remains to be seen. However, its very creation is another step towards the super-long battery life we all crave from our phones. Here’s hoping that this and other battery tech innovations will soon yield positive ramifications for both our electric bills and the environment.

Read next: How you’ll never need to charge your phone’s battery ever again


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