The smarter 4G tablet powers itself

Last updated: 11 April 2014

When big names in technology decide to team up, the prospect for consumers is usually mouth-watering. When the French Government step in – I think it’s safe to say we’re witnessing the birth of some game-changing technology.

The consortium of Gemalto, Archos, Eurecom and WYSIPS has been selected by the French Government to develop the world’s first self-powered 4G tablet. The device will be designed to offer users an unrivalled experience of 4G networks, and greater freedom than ever before. The tablet will incorporate a transparent photovoltaic film from WYSIPS into the screen to recharge the device’s battery and effectively ‘cut’ the last wire that connects mobile technology to the grid.

A two year R&D process begins this month seeking to develop a device which provides users with true freedom as well as the appropriate level of security for the new usages of tablet. Gemalto will use its expertise to define the security mechanisms required for new applications, such as using the tablet as a card reader, and to remotely and safely manage the settings and applications. On top of that, the goal of developing a self-charging tablet is particularly exciting as it opens up NFC possibilities that deliver life without wires – straight out of the box.

The charger-free technology developed by WYSIPS was recognised as the ‘first transparent photovoltaic film in the world’ at CTIA Wireless in March, but how exactly does it work?

The screen generates power from light through alternating strips of solar cells overlaid with a lenticular surface. So essentially, by beaming sunlight to solar cells and directing the human eye through the display below the capacitive layer, a clear surface remains to incorporate the touch sensitive technology used today.

While solar performance may be low at the moment, the ability to match the 40% efficiency rating of the world’s most effective solar cells could see all our mobile screens in the future refreshing themselves in the blink of an eye.

One issue surrounding the adaptation of digital wallets and the prominence of smartphone NFC is power supply. No power, could potentially mean no money. But with projects like this in the pipeline, it would appear the issue is being addressed.

In theory, with self-powered smart phones, the lives of business individuals on the move will finally become easier. This recent blog by Sivakumar Janarthanan on how mobile NFC will revolutionize payment and loyalty in the travel industry caught my eye. Imagine proceeding through an airport with an NFC mobile – whilst all the time fully online with a secure 4G network. Just how many applications would you render redundant? The point Sivakumar makes about the mobile phone replacing the alarm clock is particularly apt, as time is seemingly now the only thing standing between the customer service industry and M2M reliance.

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