In March, the University of Washington received a $50 million endowment that allowed it to boot up the entirely new Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. That money has paid off in a high-profile project reveal of a battery-free cellphone.

It’s a very rudimentary device that serves only the simple purpose of completing calls through Skype to other phone lines, but it does so solely through the power from radiofrequency waves and ambient light — not a traditional battery or connected power source. It generates the bare microwatts needed through off-shelf components to make uninterrupted calls.

The sound quality isn’t the best as the microphone is attached through to an AM transmitter and the experience of having to plug headphones for every call may get to your head at some point, but we’re obvious dealing with square one of potentially many if photodiodes and RF harvesters can pave the path to the future.

Maybe Energous and lithium-ion battery creator John Goodenough have competition.

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