Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Future smartphones could be charged by freakin’ lasers

Most modern smartphones have access to wireless charging solutions. Heck, even Apple jumped on the cable-free bandwagon with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

However, even with wireless charging pads now commonplace on many desks, they still require a mobile device to be placed in a relatively precise location in order to replenish the battery.

Researchers at the University of Washington are hoping to change that with a new system that can charge a phone from across a room, using laser beams.

They mounted a thin power cell to the back of a smartphone and used the lasers to charge the battery as fast as a USB charger.

Related: What is Apple AirPad?

The range is currently about 14-feet, but it can be extended to 40 feet away. That means the ability to place the device anywhere on a table or counter-top surface.

The researchers say the system is perfectly safe, with the beam terminating before humans come into contact with it. There’s also a flat-plate heatsink on the phone in order to dissipate heat.

“We have designed, constructed and tested this laser-based charging system with a rapid-response safety mechanism, which ensures that the laser emitter will terminate the charging beam before a person comes into the path of the laser,” said associate professor Shyam Gollakota.

“In addition to the safety mechanism that quickly terminates the charging beam, our platform includes a heatsink to dissipate excess heat generated by the charging beam.”

The red beams you see in the images are just for show. In application, they’re invisible.

Obviously it isn’t a solution that’s ready for Prime Time, but the idea of having your phone charge wherever you place it on a surface is definitely appealing.

Laser charging? Share your thoughts with us @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words