When Nokia sued Apple in October, it noted that it had spent $60 billion on research and development over the last two decades. A peek into such efforts is offered in a patent that has been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Nokia for a mobile device charger that harvests "piezoelectric kinetic energy."
Which is to say, the device is partly powered by the movements of its owner. The kinetic energy is "harvested using piezoelectric elements that are positioned to receive forces along multiple different axes," states the patent, which was filed Feb. 25.
Other devices relying on kinetic-energy harvests, says the patent, include PDAs, laptops, portable music players, broadcast receivers and GPS receivers.
How seriously Nokia - which has a history of pursuing environmentally minded projects - is taking the idea is unclear, though the patent doesn't leave much of a breadcrumb trail for others to follow.
"This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter," the patent states.
As the number of mobile phone users increases, so does the demand for energy, which the IEA (International Energy Agency) has described as threatening the security of some nations.
"Without new policies, the energy consumed by information and communications technologies as well as consumer electronics will double by 2022 and increase threefold by 2030 to 1,700 Terawatt hours (TWh). This will jeopardize efforts to increase energy security and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases," the IEA wrote in statement in May 2009, during the launch of a publication on the energy use of devices.
Nokia, along with Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments,signed a memorandum drafted by the European Commission June 29, stating that they would standardize on micro-USB phone chargers. The change, said to begin taking place in early 2010, would eliminate the need for each new phone to come with a charger - and for users to throw away old chargers with the purchase of a new phone.
One charger for all phones would benefit the environment and lower prices for both consumers and manufacturers.