Interesting thought…but just how far off is this? Well not that far to be honest as certain devices can already do this, such as some portable radios and flashlights which use a series of coils and magnets to charge the battery as it is shaken. Apple has been looking at this for a while, but the problem has always been bulk. To make the same feature work in a smart phone however; Apple printed the coils or wires on a circuit board.
Here is a synopsis of the patent that Apple applied for this week:
Harnessing power through electromagnetic induction utilizing printed coils
Systems for harnessing power through electromagnetic induction utilizing printed coils are provided. A system can include one or more moveable magnets adjacent to printed coils on a circuit. For example, a system can include one or more magnets that are operative to move alongside a circuit board that includes printed coils. The one or more magnets may move, for example, when a user shakes the system or when the user walks or runs while holding the device. The movement of the one or more magnets may create an electromotive force (e.g., a voltage) across the printed coils, and this force may be used to generate electric power.