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How will we separate the convenience of portable devices from the scourge of coal power. Step by step, EcoGeek lets you know how we're going to completely remove the plug from our cell phones.
Hello this is Hank Green from EcoGeek.

Let's be honest, that brand new phone that you just bought. In four years is going to be an ugly obsolete piece of crap. But let us stop and think for one moment about the most inconvenient part of having a cellphone. No my friends, it is not the dropped calls. It is not the deadbeat customer service. It's the freakin' plug.

It's the fact that all of my conversing is powered by coal and that my battery runs out of juice every freaking day now.

Let's get this straight. In ten years, I bet you, you'll be able to get a phone that doesn't need a plug.

First and foremost, we're gonna need better batteries. Already car companies are beating down the doors of battery manufacturers who promise to increase power density. While companies like E-Store have promised ten-times the power of advanced lithium ion cells at one tenth the size.

And while we don't know if we can take those claims seriously batteries will definitely be getting better in the next ten years.

Of course, even those ultra-advanced batteries couldn't power today's cellphones for more than a few weeks. So what must we do? We must make cellphones consume less power. And we will do that with ultra-low power components. 

A phone like the IPhone on the cutting edge of technology will never be plug-less. Those big back-lit color displays, giant hard drives and fancy graphic cards are always going to be on the edge of technology and are always going to be consuming a lot of power.

But the simple parts of the phone, the only ones that are really necessary for the phone like the microphones, the speakers, the processors, the receivers, the transmitters. All of those have been dropping in their power use dramatically in the last few years.

If this continues, cellphones might one day be just like your old wristwatch. You just put it on and it works... forever.

But even this might not take phones truly plugless. And if not we will need an ambient power generator. Something that can suck energy out of the very world that we live in.

Now the simplest and most obvious of these is solar integration. You just slap a solar panel on the outside of your cellphone and suddenly you have got a trickle charge. 

Now it is true that most cellphones spend most of their lives in dark pockets but that never stopped my solar powered calculators from performing their function.

Already several manufacturers are working on cellphones with integrate solar panels. And when combined with next-generation batteries and power-saving techniques it might just be enough to keep that plug at bay.

But if that's not enough, I will have you know that there is power radiating through my body right now, striking me from every angle. From television broadcasts and cell phone conversations and the radio- all of these waves, these energy waves!

And Nokia has figured out how to capture those ambient radio waves and convert them into useful energy for their cell phones. Now, it's not enough power to keep you conversing but it is enough power to keep the phone in standby mode.

So if you don't talk on your cell phone, the charge would literally last... forever. It wouldn't be very useful, but it would literally last forever.

Another ambient source of energy that is always available to cell phones: your voice. While a lot of the energy from my vocal chords will inevitably be captured by the cell phone's microphone, there is enough left over to actually capture and turn into power!

You might think that this sounds insane, I probably would too if I had not seen the research from Texas A&M, proving not only that people are thinking about it, but that it's possible. And yes, my friends, that means that some day, you will have a conversation like this:

Hank [talking into cell phone]: Oh hey, can you hold on a second, my phone's running out of batteries. [Moves phone in front of mouth]. RAOOGH..

And finally, we have the most low-tech solution: frankly, I don't know why there are not already pull strings on our cell phones. Just a simple little generator that you can wind with a quick jerk of a little embedded string. To keep you conversing forever without the need for coal-fired energy.

This is Hank Green from EcoGeek, and that is how portable electronic devices are going to be separated from the scourge of coal power.

If you have any questions for me or the EcoGeek team, please leave them at