Sony wants to turn your phone into a power vampire

Outlandish patent applications are a dime a dozen these days, yet a few of them warrant mentioning due to just how scarily close to reality they can be. One such case is one of Sony's latest granted patents, which proposes the idea of devices wirelessly leeching power from others in their vicinity, which gives off some serious Dracula vibes. This is a terrible idea by all accounts, but what scares us the most is that Sony might just do it.

So let's begin: patent application US 20170064283 describes "a method for configuring wireless power and data transfer between consumer electronic (CE) devices," or in other words, a combination of wireless charging and near-field communication. The problems with this are many: firstly, as anyone who's ever used wireless charging can tell you, the technology is finicky and relies on the phone being placed on a very specific position on top of the charger. And this is because, at least for now, charging works in an extremely short range, actually making it more restrictive than the classic wired solution. Now imagine having to position two phones perfectly on top of each other, while also completely giving up on using either one of them.

And this is just the beginning, as we haven't even touched the problem of power efficiency, which is miserable in most implementations. In other words, you'll drain much more battery power than you'll receive, resulting in a considerable net minus. And as for those batteries: the most commonly used type, Li-ion, isn't going anywhere any time soon, despite suffering from major power capacity reduction in a short span of time. So imagine how much worse your already failing year-old battery will get if another device starts regularly leeching off of it.

Granted, this is a very short-sighted view of the patent, which, for some reason, covers data transfer as well as wireless charging, making the idea a weird alternative to the old idea of wireless peer-to-peer networks. Also notable is the fact that the application specifically addresses the latter of the above problems with a paragraph devoted to preventing devices running on battery power from supplying it to others.

In any case, the technology for this patent simply isn't here yet, even if recent rumors have suggested it may be coming in the near future (but from Apple, rather than Sony). Still, the biggest hurdle for implementing at least some variation of this is shrinking down the power supply mechanism and figuring out how to cram it into a phone. And if Sony manages to do that, it might just put it in its next flagship, despite the general uselessness of it, à la Samsung and its heartbeat sensors.

source: USPTO via WhatAFuture


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