Smartphone running low on battery life? Pretty soon, you might be able to swipe some juice from your friend's device.
Sony recently earned a patent allowing for two consumer devices like smartphones to transfer power between each other. The patent was unearthed by tech site What A Future.
The technology would leverage near-field communication (NFC), used in many smartphones to communicate with nearby devices or contact-less payment systems used with mobile payment apps.
In the case of the Sony patent, NFC would be used to allow one device like a smartphone to suck up power from another phone. When using NFC on current smartphones, users either touch another device or keep it close enough to transmit data. In the case of contact-less payments, users engage with a special card reader at a retailer to process a payment.
"It can be beneficial in many instances to allow consumer electronic devices to wirelessly transmit and/or share power between two or more consumer electronic devices," reads an excerpt from the patent. "For example, some embodiments allow one cell phone to obtain power from and/or use battery power from another cell phone."
The patent would also apply to transferring data. Naturally, not all patents turn into for-sale products, and Sony did not respond to a request for comment on its plans.
Smartphone makers have explored with different ways to introduce wireless charging, one of several key advancements that could renew consumer interest in buying new mobile devices. In most cases, users charge their phone by placing it on a special stand or mat instead of plugging it in to an electrical outlet. That's a feature of Samsung's Galaxy S7, for instance.
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