MindBullets 20 Years

Never charge your phone again

New nanotechnologies set to scramble battery makers

From a consumer point of view Motorola’s new technology announcements may just mean more convenience. For battery manufacturers this could be the death-knell to their industry.

Motorola’s new smart phones have integrated wiring made out of carbon nano-tubes.

These new materials are so efficient at conducting electrical current that your phone will be able to get all the power it needs via the printable solar cells integrated into the casing. A 60w bulb is said to provide enough energy for even the most energetic conversations.

Just around the corner, says a Motorola research scientist, are even more advanced phones with miniature fuel cells that will never need replacement or charging – all you ever need to do is to refill their tiny fuel tanks as you would a cigarette lighter.

Last month Duracell announced that it was investing US$50 million in a new manufacturing facility in China. They could not be reached for comment last night.

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

2006: Printable solar cells appear on consumer electronics
Some consumer electronic devices appear with light and flexible solar cells integrated into their casings. The technology is still quite inefficient and these models are rated at only 5% efficiency.

Motorola launches the first mobile phone to use printable solar cells – this is primarily intended as a supplementary power source for bright days. At night batteries are still required. The youth market laps up this new fashion – demonstrating environmental awareness.

GE announces that it will ship solar cells this year pushing the 10% efficiency level – by adapting methods developed for printable lighting panels to solar cells.

2007: Efficiency enhancements leap-frog demand
For the third time this year researchers have announced that expectations of the new printable solar cells, carbon nanotubes/buckyballs and conductive plastic have again exceeded all their predictions.
Siemens and GE are the leading traditional players in this field. Newcomers include US companies Konarka, NanoSys and NanoSolar. STM Microelectronic of Geneva is also commercializing research.
New materials technologies are enabling new levels of performance previously thought unachievable.
Appliance manufactures are now scrambling to develop new applications and drive consumer demand.

2009: The mobile market embraces nanotechnology
SonyEricsson, Nokia and Motorola all announce plans to use carbon nanotubes in the wiring of their mobile phones. Due to the extreme conductivity of this new kind of wiring, it will enable the full use of printed solar cells even in dim lighting.
Manufacturing problems and in-market reliability are expected to delay introduction of the first consumer devices until 2011.

2011: Motorola first to commercialize new technologies in its SOFTfone
Motorola delights the market with their new SOFTfone – a flexible combination of printed circuits and solar batteries that sits snugly in your shirt pocket and moves as you do.
It has a massive flexible video display and will never need a battery.
Supplies to dealers and service providers are being rationed by Motorola to create some sense in a market fuelled by unrealistic consumer expectations.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.