This credit-card sized antenna harvests energy from 5G signals into wireless power for IoT devices!

Harvesting abundant sources of renewable energy and then converting them into something valuable has been the quest humankind has been on for decades. This makes even more sense in current times when we are on the brink of exhausting earth’s vital resources, causing unrepairable harm to the planet. As scouts of this very quest, the team at Georgia Tech’s ATHENA lab has created a 3D-printed energy harvesting antenna that’s capable of garnering electromagnetic energy of the 5G signals to juice modern-day gadgets. The technology is literally about putting the overcapacity 5G network bandwidth to judicious use – turning it into a wireless power grid that could shape the future of our relentless energy requirements for IoT devices or mobile devices.

They’ve created a flexible Rotman lens-based rectifying antenna (rectenna) that can collect the millimeter-wave in the 28-GHz band – the first of its kind. Previously there have been attempts to harvest the 24 or 35 GHz frequencies, but they were not practical since they only worked when they are in sight of the 5G base station. Emmanouil Tentzeris, Professor in Flexible Electronics in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, rightly summed it up by saying, “The fact is, 5G is going to be everywhere, especially in urban areas. You can replace millions, or tens of millions, of batteries of wireless sensors, especially for smart city and smart agricultural applications.”

This one is by far the most potent wireless power grid capable of powering devices at acute range – much better than any existing technology aimed at doing so. The credit card-sized iteration of the technology has a spiky plate around the center, which assimilates the 5G network’s millimeter waves. Just to compare, the rectenna design antenna developed by the team is almost 21 times more capable of sucking power from any direction – making it a viable bendable energy harvesting system capable of being employed in future technology implementations for the end-user.

It could be anything from an energy harvesting phone case, a credit card in your wallet that could charge your smartwatch at the end of the day, or a deck of cards that does more than its core intended purpose. For now, however, the innovation is only capable of powering low-energy IoT devices like sensors on your thermostat, but still, it the first step in the limitless possibilities that it promises.

Designer: Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology

This sleek foldable phone’s practical form factor is designed to boost smartphone photography!

Foldable smartphones hit the scene in a big way a couple of years ago, but they have failed to make any major inroads (as speculated when they first burst into the scene) in the highly competitive segment of the phone market – yes, I’m talking about the flagship segment. The form factor so far has been limited to the clamshell of the Moto Razr, the Galaxy Z Flip, or the bigger tablet-like folding form of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Huawei Mate X. To liven up things and give consumers a sneak peek at how foldable smartphone technology is going to shape in the near future, concept phones refresh the monotony of the predictable designs that we are used to.

The Compal CHEESE is the latest to catch our eye, and it seems good both on the practicality front as well as form and function considering what the end-user actually looks forward to. This smartphone is designed to satiate the cravings of photography fanatics with a very compact form factor that justifies daily use-case-scenario. CHEESE has only one camera module on the top, and the upper third half of the phone folds to be used as a selfie shooter. While you might be sucked into believing that it is similar to the Asus Zenfone 6 or Zenfone 7, but they have a rotating camera system and not a folding display like the one on the CHEESE. Without being too bulky or wide (like Samsung or Motorola), the phone manages to balance out the daily phone usage with photography perfectly.

The thing here to note is that the phone folds as the dual cameras face outward in the phone mode. The major half of the screen is for you to use as a viewfinder and photograph composition, and if you’re clicking a portrait of your friend, he/she can see themselves in the folded part of the screen facing them. Furthermore, the side edges of the display act as the camera shutter or be used for other functions like zoom or even to display notifications when you’re not clicking pictures. While it’s still a blueprint of what Compal could make in the future – pricing of anything under $1,200 will keep prospective buyers interested.

Designer: Compal

This paper cylinder is a rollable speaker that delivers surround sound!

When we talk of electronics the trend is to shrink down the size of already existing technology while making it better in terms of usability. The same is true for audio equipment and believe it or not a newly developed iteration of speakers by the scientists at Germany’s Chemnitz University’s Print and Media Technology institute will catch your attention beyond comprehension. No more than a roll of paper that can be tailored into circular rings to encapsulate the listener in immersive audio, the research is backed by years of hard work and determination to achieve this form factor.

The ultimate goal is to design low-cost entertainment systems for modern interiors that embrace anything that’s highly functional and minimal in its look. So, a future where your music system will merely be a thin sheet of paper that can be placed anywhere on the walls or ceiling is more than a feasible possibility. The team of researchers headed by Prof. Dr. Arved C. Hübler has been working to improve the sonorous paper loudspeakers by Chemnitz which produce sound by displacing air to create a vibration. Hence, came into existence the roll-to-roll printed speaker paper, a.k.a. T-Paper which is more economical to produce – virtually in a roll form. According to project manager Georg C. Schmidt, the newly developed technology allows them to laminate the electronics for better feasibility in practical use. “In our T-Ring prototype, an almost four-meter-long track with 56 individual loudspeakers was connected to form seven segments and shaped into a circle, making a 360° surround sound installation possible,” says Schmidt.

This means that in the near future we could see the technology being implemented in trade shows, museums, or the advertising industry. The T-Ring that the team has developed for now is nothing but 90 percent conventional paper with electronics sandwiched to generate sound that surrounds the listener for an expanded soundscape for realism. The possibilities with this technology are endless and in the coming years, we could see home entertainment systems embedded into the home décor objects for a seamless design and superior audio experience at a very low-cost thanks to the developments by Print and Media Technology institute.

Designer: Chemnitz University of Technology (Visuals: TU Chemnitz/Jacob Müller)

Apple’s Foldable iPhone 13 concept may unfold like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or MotoRazr – what’s your pick?

Talking of smartphone designs – Samsung, Motorola, and now LG have all been bold enough to take a detour from the contemporary. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 that has matured elegantly from its predecessor and the compact Motorola Razr are very good examples of smartphone design evolution over the past few years. The never before seen swivel form factor of the LG Wing is also a bold move in the competitive market, and LG is also working on a foldable phone that looks to outsmart Samsung and Motorola in the near future. So, the question arises, when will Apple be showing us its next big leap in terms of design? Well, they have filed a patent for a folding display that suggests, the idea of a folding iPhone is coming to life, and now it’s only time before we’ll have our wishes granted.

Traditionally iPhones have always been very compact and designed with one-handed use in mind. To that end, Samsung and LG have not constricted themselves and brought big-screen phones to the market that are tailored for multimedia consumption. That competitive push has forced Apple to increase the screen size gradually, as this year’s iPhone 12 Pro Max has a big 6.7-inch display. The Apple version of a folding phone could take design cues from the Galaxy Z Fold 2 if they decide to make it an all-out flagship-grade version, or go for a subtle Razr-like form factor if they desire to cater to a niche set of buyers. If we go by the patent filed by Apple, the display will have a crease-less foldable panel (like Galaxy Z Fold 2) and a folding mechanism similar to Motorola Razr – folding like a handy mirror. The early renders of the iPhone 13 are not exactly promising (for either of the versions) but we can count on Apple’s tendency to be thorough in its design testing and the result will be ready to shock and awe. Personally, I find the Moto Razr inspired fold a more unique design with the folded screen seemingly a throwback to the iPod Nano that was a part of their game-changing arsenal.

Any way they choose to proceed, a folding iPhone is inevitable and who knows it could be the iPhone 13 Fold or a new model that is positioned separately from the conventional iPhone series. Apple is going to bide their time before releasing such a revolutionary d

esign (Steve Jobs would have dared) as they now go for a very measured approach. Will it be able to lure the early adopters who are all in for future-forward designs? Sure they can if the design is ergonomic, the user-interface is seamless and the overall experience improves productivity beyond comprehension.

Designer: iOS Beta News



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