/ Technology

Dead mobile at a festival? Music is power

Orange Sound Charge

We all know modern mobiles have pitiful battery life, and with the season of festivals upon us, music lovers are sure to be hit by dead gadgets. So without sockets, Orange hopes to charge your phone with sound…

With sound, I hear you ask? YES, WITH SOUND! (That’s me trying to shout over the echoey guitar riffs of U2). Orange UK has come up with a phone charging prototype that’ll charge your iPhone, Android, Nokia or any other mobile with sound.

You’ve already expressed your distaste for the short battery life of modern gadgets. After over 1,000 votes, nine in ten of you felt gadgets should last longer, with smartphones being one of the biggest culprits.

‘Could they produce a phone that works off “hot air” generated by the constant flow of meaningless waffle emitted by most of the people I overhear on their mobiles?’ put forward commenter Moaner.

Good idea, and it’s not that far off what Orange is going for. Known as the Orange “Sound Charge”, the mobile operator’s prototype integrates Piezoelectric film (a cool name for a band in itself) into a t-shirt. This A4-sized film absorbs sound pressure waves and converts them into an electrical charge for your mobile.

Charging with sound the future?

Music festivals are the obvious place for this technology. Instead of having to drag yourself off to a charging station, you can just enjoy the tunes, puff out your chest and let your t-shirt absorb the sound. The Sound Charge also comes with a handy pouch to store your phone, so you won’t need to risk your phone getting nicked from your tent.

If you wear it at Glastonbury, it’ll apparently give you enough power to charge two regular mobiles or one smartphone. Just make sure to detach all of its electricals before you throw it in your washing machine when you want to clean off all that dried-on festival mud.

However, after a little digging, my clever colleagues found that you’ll only get a full smartphone charge if you wear the t-shirt over the full Glasto weekend. This makes them concerned ‘about the potential smell of wearing the same t-shirt for the whole festival’. Yes, if you’re desperate for a fully-charged iPhone, you might want to buy yourself a couple of these tees or be in fear of an empty space surrounding you.

Do you want to eco-charge?

The Sound Charge is still in its prototype stage, so it might be some time before you’ll be able to wear it with pride. Still, there are other eco-charging solutions on the market, such as mini solar panels (not so useful with the current weather), wind-up chargers, and Orange’s welly boots that generate power by converting the heat from your feet.

So maybe one day we can do away with plug sockets altogether, where our mobiles will be integrated with all manner of eco-charging tech – and as Moaner says, when power can be generated simply from the guff you spout over the phone. That’ll be the day.


Sounds good, is this like a revamp of Seiko kinetic watches?

Sounds a lot less effort than the stall I recently saw at festival that charged your phone but only if you cycled for it! I myself however was feeling smug that my old fashioned non-smartphone Nokia had finally come into its own and managed to last 4 days without any help. You don’t get that with an iPhone….

Michael C says:
25 July 2011

Or you could just get some spare mobile batteries very cheaply!

CeliaB says:
2 August 2011

The ‘cycling for a recharge’ is in the Greenfields at Glstonbury so quite appropriate I think. I took a spare battery

I’m with Catherine on this – old phones rock when you’re at a festival! (pun very much intended) I keep an antique Nokia specially for festivals and camping trips. It means I can’t check emails, but I can keep in touch with friends at the festival and make sure I can meet up with them, and people can get hold of me in an emergency.

Incidentally, at Latitude this year there was a Vodafone stall which offered free charging to all its customers. Has anyone else seen companies offering this? Would it make you likely to switch? I got a bit miffed when I saw it and thought if a big company is doing people a favour, why not do a favour to everyone and see if you can’t get some new customers out of it?