I'm having trouble believing that RCA's Airnergy, a "WiFi hotspot power harvester" unveiled at CES, can actually charge its internal battery from WiFi radio signals.
The Airnergy has a battery inside it, so you can just carry it around and as long as you're near some WiFi, it charges itself. Unlike a solar charger, it works at night and you can keep it in your pocket. Of course, proximity to the WiFi source and the number of WiFi sources is important, but at the rate it charges, if you have a home wireless network you could probably just leave anywhere in your house overnight and it would be pretty close to full in the morning.A commenter on OhGizmo! offers the following:
Here's some math. Long story short, by my calculations, 100% efficiency and absorption at 5 feet away from a 100mW home router, (reasonable figures), it would take 34.5 years to charge that blackberry battery.(BTW, What is that dent in the gadget about? Looks like someone poked it with an awl.)
It's not a Dyson Sphere, so you only get the power that hits the antenna.
Surface of a sphere = 4pir^2, r = 60" (5 feet).
Surface area of a 5' sphere = 45,216 square inches.
The device appears about 2" x 3" = 6 square inches.
The device then picks up, best case, 0.000133 of the power out from the router, which is 100mW, so.. 0.0133mW
If you leave it there for 24 hours, 0.0318 mWh are stored.
According to Will's battery, it has ~4,000 mWh capacity.
So, it would take 12,579 days, or 34.5 years, to charge your blackberry battery once, presuming 100% absorption, no losses.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects