Wysips Li-Fi screen can charge your phone and receive data solely through light

01/20/2014 - 00:00

Almost every smartphone maker has tried wireless charging at some point, but it never works as well as we want it to. Your phone has to have a special cradle, or you have to place your watch in a special bowl – just right. It’s wireless, but it’s a hassle. SunPartner Technologies and 3M have a solution for this. Last week, the two companies showed me a new technology that could help our battery-drain problems, and introduce a whole new way to transfer data.

Solar charging your devices

It’s called “Wysips” and it’s a thin layer of crystal glass that can be embedded into small screens like watches, phones, or tablets and turn the screen into a solar panel of sorts. You can’t see it from the outside of the phone (it’s just about completely clear) and it starts charging the battery anytime artificial or natural light shines on the phone’s screen.

“Every time you get light, it will charge the phone a little bit,” said Matthieu de Broca, Business Development & Strategic Alliances at SunPartner. “Over the course of a day you add a significant contribution – we’re talking like 15 percent in a typical phone.”

With smartphone battery power stretched as thin as it is, another 15 percent (and more if you leave your phone in a bright area) could really help. A tech like this could theoretically save someone in a power bind with no charger. As the miniature solar cells improve, the amount of power generated could rise significantly, we were told.

This could completely charge an E-Ink device, like a Kindle, Nook, or small watch – entirely doing away with the need for physical charging. Old, weak flip phone models could also possibly do away with charging already if they incorporated this model.

What it looks like

SunPartner makes the screen layer and 3M creates the adhesive needed to put it in screens, and helping it reach manufacturers and get some press from publications like DT.

We got a chance to examine the solar-charging Wysips screen layer, which is mostly clear, but shimmers if you look at it from different angles. If you look close enough, you can see the solar crystal pattern, much like you can see a touch grid on your phone if you examine it up close. Inside a demo Huawei phone, we couldn’t notice the Wysips layer at all, though the viewing angles of the device were lower than usual. Representatives said that it does affect viewing angles slightly, but the Huawei phone in question was no flagship device.