Sunday, December 16, 2012

How technology and complexity impacts society - an essay

     This essay is about the computer technology and its impacts to the society. One application of the computer technology is Electronic Banking. The complexity in Electronic Banking and its consequent effects will be used here as an example.

     The aim of this essay is to discuss how the computer technology impacts the society and show how the complexity of the technology affects more than just the equipment and devices. To accomplish this aim, the discussion will be separated in two parts.


Part 1:
Computer Technology and its impacts on society  
   Today, the computer technology is all around us. In our homes we have our laptop, notebook, tablet, and desktop computers. Smartphones, cell phones, telephones, mp3 players, e-readers have computer technology built into them. Even our televisions, blu-ray players, receivers, home theater systems, wireless speakers, and remotes have
computer technology in their circuit boards. In offices, computer technology is seen in printers, copying machines, fax, projectors, and air-conditioners. In factories, computer technology is incorporated in moulding, drilling, cutting, sawing, forming, milling, extruding machines, measuring instruments, testing equipment, and even tools.
     Computer and the internet transformed the way we live our lives. We communicate faster, travel faster, do our work faster, and even prolong our life expectancies as computer technology is applied in medical industry. People spend an incredible amount of time in social networking sites, video-calling, chat boards, and emails to connect to their family, friends and loved ones. In search engines, almost any topic you want to search for has a result and an answer. Anyone can upload a video, capture a video, and even broadcast himself.
     Recipes and cookbooks for local and international dishes are now available on the internet which provides a great deal of help in the preparation of our day to day food. Programmable coffee makers, juice makers, stoves, refrigerators, and microwaves offer big help in the kitchen. Libraries, research institutions, online universities and distance learning schools made a big impact on the educational and paper industry.
     Electronic Banking also revolutionized the old-fashioned way of banking. Through the use of the computer technology and electronic machines, it made banking fast, easy, flexible, and convenient. There are also banking networks and alliances that allow you to withdraw your money in another country through the use of other banking
machines on branches of other banks. The way you access or conduct banking transactions are also state-of-the art. Banking can now be done over a phone, computer, cell phone or smartphone.
     The above examples illustrate only the positive side. The other side of the story is that evil-minded people are also using the computer technology for their unlawful, fraudulent, black propaganda, or even terrorist activities.
     Having shown both sides of how the computer technology is used, we will see how a technology involves not only technical aspects but the non-technical and external factors connected directly or indirectly to the technology. The invention of the light bulb and the beginning of Microsoft Corporation are used as examples.
    There is more to the history of a technology than the technical details.
     The technology behind the light bulb encompasses more than the device. To start with, there are people. Behind Edison’s genius was the organization of people that support him.
     By 1878, Edison had at Menlo Park a staff of 30 scientists, skilled tradesmen, draftsmen, and others working under his command and supervision. 
     The consumers also play a big role. If a better, safer, alternative solution costs the consumers less than their existing provider, they would likely to adopt the technology. 
     Aside from the manufacturer, consumers, and competition, there are a lot more behind the technology. Many issues be it social, political, business, personal, and other matters complicated the issues that go along with the technical aspects of the technology.      
     Lawsuits over patents would also get in the way of the technology.
Beginning in 1885, Edison's lawyers filed a series of lawsuits against the
infringers to his company's technology, and court battles lasted for years.
    Another big influence is brought about by the media that delivers news to the general public. Edison often used the media to his
own advantage, and he convinced the public that AC was dangerous and unsafe source of power.
     Company mergers radically change the organization of the newly formed company. Among major changes, as a result of merging are change in stock ownership, management, responsibilities, procedures, supervisors, structure of workers, and more importantly the sharing of information which relates to the development of new
technology and new products. 
      In 1889, Edison's companies that manufacture his electrical equipment were merged into the Edison General Electric Company.  In 1892, J.P Morgan who took over the company, merged it with Thomson-Houston to form General Electric (GE).
     Microsoft is one of the pioneers in software industry that provides operating systems to computers. Started from operating systems for computers, Microsoft has expanded rapidly throughout the years and now operates in multiple areas of business such as servers, phones, consumer electronics, video games, digital products, computer hardware, office suite, information technology consulting, automotive software, advertising and more. Because of its success, competitors are attracted to follow. But Microsoft would not be as successful as today if it was not in the first place selected by IBM. Outside of the technology world, there was a social factor, the chairman of IBM worked with the mother of Bill Gates.
     When IBM created its personal computer, the PC, their staff looked for prospective companies to provide them their PC's operating system. Digital Research did not accept IBM's offer and the staff interviewed Bill Gates and members of his small company, Microsoft. IBM is a lucrative company to deal with and Bill Gates took this huge opportunity to convince IBM that Microsoft would be the perfect choice. IBM chairman John Opel had served on the board of the United Way with Bill Gates's mother and thought it would be nice to do business with the son of Mary Gates (mother of Bill Gates).
     With the creativity and innovation of Bill Gates he was able to start from a small software company into a multi-billion-dollar company whose products are used all over the world.

Part 2:
Electronic Banking and its Complexity  
     As we have seen in Part 1 how technology impacts the society in general and encompasses more than the device, this time in Part 2, we will see how the complexity of Electronic Banking and its impacts.
      Edison’s invention of the simple light bulb in his laboratory led to the invention of one device to another up to the invention of the computer that followed in the later years.
          If you open a computer and see the tiny microchips, resistors, capacitors, transistors and other electronic components and not to mention the complicated wirings, you wonder how are these assembled, connected, and more importantly is that they work and provide a certain functionality. If you open a microchip, it is complex that you even need a microscope to see the wirings alone. Even more wonderful is that the motherboard is connected with other components that are in turn connected to the parts to make up the hardware of a computer. But for a computer to work, it needs many different softwares to drive the hardware. These softwares are programs containing millions of lines of code written by computer programmers. To see even more complexity, these computers are connected and networked to other computers and peripheral devices that are located thousands of miles overseas, over the other continent, over the other side of the world. Let’s say your bank is in North America, if you make a banking transaction in Asia from another bank, it is amazing how you are able to access your money and the system updates your current balance to reflect the withdrawal you just made.
     But that’s when everything is working well. How about when one major component broke down? What if a major fault occur in the program? How is it going to affect the whole worldwide network? An example of this complexity problem is the bug or code error in AT&T in 1990.
     AT&T had a software bug in the computers that control its long-distance telephone network. In January 1990, the bug caused multiple shutdowns and AT&T's switching computers made the long-distance system non-operational for an unbelievable nine (9) hours. During that time, only about half the 100 million phone calls placed with AT&T was accommodated.
     In Electronic Banking, if a similar major code problem would happen, imagine the impact of it to the network of computers of different banks. Possible problems would be the discrepancies of balances, loss of accounts, and information. Even worse is the effect on the costumers. Loss of money, loss of trust in Electronic Banking industry, lawsuits, and bankruptcies are just some of the complications and troubles as a result.

Technology can make huge impacts on society. The combination of one technology and another will make up a complex system. While technology can contribute to our progress on the one side, the complexity of interrelated technologies, if not controlled within safe limits, can bring disastrous effects and even ruin the long hard years of development and advancement in technology that we now enjoy.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Radiation hazards, dangers, and effects on human

As a result of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that happened on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was severely damaged which led to the release of radioactive materials.

The radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan is a real shocker and wake up call all around the world. As we see the news everyday, people all over the world are now extremely aware and scared of the effects of radioactive materials.

The main hazard of radiation is exposure. Radiation can also be acquired through ingestion, inhalation, and injection. In Japan people were alarmed of contaminated food and products. The whole world fears of food products coming from Japan. Up to 400 mSv of radiation was detected. The table below lists comparable radiation amounts ( units are in millisievert, mSv ) acquired by humans.

30,000 mSv -- death within 2 to 3 weeks
10,000 mSv -- fatal/lethal dose
5,000 mSv --- extremely severe radiation dose
2,000 mSv --- radiation poisoning, nausea, vomiting
1,000 mSv --- radiation sickness
100 mSv ----- annual dose for cancer risks
36 mSv ------ cigarrete smoking 1 1/2 packs per day
10 mSv ------ radiation from a CT Scan
3 mSv ------- radiation from Mammogram test
1.5 mSv ----- radiation from Spinal X-ray
0.1 mSv ----- radiation form Chest X-ray

What is radiation?

Radiation is energy coming from a radioactive material and has the ability to travel through space and even penetrate materials or even our bodies. Radiation from the sun is an example.

What is ionization?

Ionization is the process of creating electrical charges in atoms or molecules. An ion is an atom or molecule that has a positive or negative electrical charge.

Two types of radiation

1. Ionizing radiation
2. Non-ionizing radiation

Ionizing radiation can create electrical charges and has enough energy to break the bond between the electrons and the nucleus of the atom.
Non-ionizing radiation cannot create electrical charges and does not have enough energy to break the bond between the electrons and the nucleus of the atom. Radio waves, microwaves, and visible light are examples.

Types of ionizing radiation

1. Alpha particles = travel only up to 3 inches or less in the air and cannot penetrate the skin.
2. Beta particles = travel up to 10 meters in the air and penetrates most solid objects.
3. Gamma rays = travel in the air for hundreds of meters. A good protection from gamma rays is a thick wall of steel.
4. Neutron rays = travel in the air for thousands of meters and have the capacity to make other materials radioactive. A good protection from neutron rays is a thick wall of concrete shield.

Hazards and dangers from ionizing radiation

Ionizing radiation is harmful to our body because once they are absorbed and accumulated into our system, they can alter our cells, change our cell functions, damage tissues, even worst is leading to cancer, and eventually death.
Alpha particles are dangerous if swallowed or ingested into our bodies. Beta particles cause burns and harmful if swallowed or ingested into our body. Gamma rays and neutron rays are extremely dangerous if we are exposed externally to them.
Any excessive exposure to high amounts and levels of radiation will result to radiation sickness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, lesions, organ damage, mental retardation in infants, cancer, death, and many more unthinkable disastrous effects...

What is speaker channel, Tuner, Pre-amplifier, Power Amplifier, Audio Video Receiver, Home Theater Entertainment system?

What is a speaker channel?

A speaker channel is a path through which electromagnetic audio signals or sound information are being transfered, recorded or reproduced. It may also refer to the signal flowing through the speaker channel (path for the speaker signal). Sound recording and reproduction involves the transmission of the original sound source to the reproduction fo audio signals. It deals with original recorded audio signals (input) and electromagnetic audio signals reproduced and passed through the channels of speakers (output). Reproduced electromagnetic audio signals traveling through the speaker channels have a specified frequency band that is then passed/transmitted/sent to a loudspeaker or group of loudspeakers.

Mono sound system

A mono sound system is a system where all the electromagnetic audio signals are mixed or combined together and sent or routed through a single audio or mono channel.

Stereo sound system

A stereo sound system is a system where in the electromagnetic audio signals are sent or routed through two independent audio signal channels. The original input audio signals are reproduced into a sound output by sending them to two channels or stereo channels.


A radio tuner is a device that receives radio broadcasts and converts them into electromagnetic audio signals with specific frequencies which are then channeled and fed into an amplifier for further sound amplification. A typical household audio receiver in your home has an FM tuner and an AM tuner. 


A preamplifier or a preamp is a device inside the receiver or audio-video receiver in your home that is used to amplify or strengthen the low-level (low voltage) signals from sound sources such as a microphone, a guitar pickup, or a musical instrument. The output audio signals from the preamplifier are then sent and fed to a power amplifier to further amplify the sound signals before transmitted to the loudspeakers or speakers.

Power Amplifier

A power amplifier, power amp, or simply called amp id used to further increase or strengthen the audio signals by increasing the current then feeding them to the loudspeakers. The GAIN of an amplifier is a measure of how much the input sound has been amplified or strengthened in the output sound produced.

Stereo Receiver

A stereo receiver or sometimes called a component is an electronic equipment which has an FM and AM radio tuners, a preamp or a pre-amplifier and a power amplifier. They are called stereo receivers because the original input sound signals are reproduced into a sound output sent to two channels, the left speaker channel and the right speaker channel.

Multi-channel Audio Video Receiver

A multi-channel audio-video receiver (AVR) is an electronic equipment which is part of a home entertainment or home theatre system having an FM/AM radio tuners, pre-amplifier, power amplifier, digital video processor, input and output jacks for audio and video signals (digital or analog) from an audio equipment such as a mic or microphone, CD player, iPod, or mp3 player and video equipment such as a TV, DVD player, or Blu-ray player, home video game consoles such as PlayStation 3 or PS3 from Sony, Xbox 360 from Microsoft, and Wii from Nintendo. A multi-channel audio-video receiver is the main component of a surround sound playback and entertainment system. An audio-video receiver (AVR) with multiple channels are also called home theater receiver, a key element to a surround sound home entertainment.

Surround Sound System

A surround sound system is an essential part of a modern home theatre and home entertainment system which involves a multi-channel receiver such as a 5.1 channel receiver or a 7.1 channel receiver, and the loudspeakers, subwoofer, and surround speakers. In a surround sound system, the original electromagnetic audio signals from input sound sources are improved in quality after the audio channels are being reproduced using surround sound channel speakers which are the left surround, right surround, rear or back surround speakers in addition to the front screen channel speakers located in the left front, center, and right front. The result of surround sound audio channel speakers that encircle the listeners or audience is a better quality of sound often referred to as three-dimensional (3D) sound.

5.1 Channel Surround System

A 5.1 channel surround system has 5 full-range audio channels and 1 Low Frequency Effects (LFE) or subwoofer or bass channel (which requires only 10% or one-tenth or 0.1 of the bandwidth of the other full-range audio channels). The original input sound is designed to be reproduced using a total of 6 speakers namely the Left, Center, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround, and Subwoofer channel speakers.

7.1 Channel Surround System

A 7.1 channel surround system has a similar concept as that of a 5.1 channel surround system but uses a total of 8 channel speakers for sound reproduction. It consists of 7 normal audio channel speakers and 1 subwoofer or LFE channel. These channel speakers are arranged in a configuration which surround the listener(s) or audience and are positioned in a more or less circular manner. These channel speakers are Left Front, Left, Center, Right, Right Front, Left Surround, Right Surround and Subwoofer (LFE).

Friday, December 14, 2012

What is GPS (Global Positioning System), How does GPS work?

What is GPS?

GPS or Global Positioning System is a navigation system designed by the US Military (Department of Defense - DoD). GPS operates by using 24 GPS satellites that are about 11,500 miles above the sky and orbit the Earth with a speed of travel of about 2,000 mph (miles per hour) and with an orbit time of 12 hours around the Earth for at total of two orbits per day. Each satellite weighs about 2,500 pounds and are solar-powered. The length of a GPS satellite is about 17 feet and requires only a transmitter power of 50 watts. A GPS satellite has a working life of approximately 10 years.

GPS main features:
24 hours a day, 7 days a week availability
10 to 20 meter of precision and accuracy
International, worldwide, global application and coverage
Very quick and effective means of determining any location at any time and anywhere
Low cost for the end-user or consumer
Can be available to anyone

GPS main applications:
Cell phones, Smartphones
Laptops, Notebook computers
Cars, Vans, Motorcycles, Trucks, and other vehicles
Ships and other Marine or Navy vessels
Army Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, and other Ground army vehicles
Fighter planes, Jet planes, Commercial airplanes and other aircrafts
Tracking system to track vehicles, persons, pets, wildlife animals
Surveyors and surveying industry
Making of maps
Personal travel from one point to another
Travel, Tour, Tourism industry
Fun and Recreation
Electronic applications
and many more ...

How does GPS work?

A GPS receiver receives signals sent by the GPS satellites that are in space above the Earth. Equipped with highly precise atomic clocks, these GPS satellites transmit signals to the GPS receiver with data and information involving the time the message was transmitted, orbit information, and current location. The GPS satellites use radio waves that travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) in order to send messages to the GPS receiver. The GPS receiver then uses programs and algorithms to calculate the distance the signal has traveled by determining the time it took for the signal to travel from the GPS satellite and finally arrive at the GPS receiver. GPS receiver works by means of the principle of Trilateration which is the determination of the intersection of the surfaces of three spheres. When the GPS receiver has the information on different times and locations from at least 3 different GPS satellites, it can then use Trilateration to compute its current position (or the location of the person holding the GPS receiver on Earth).

Top 10, Top 5, Top 3 GPS Navigation systems on the market

The Top 10, Top 5, Top 3 GPS Navigation systems for Cars, Boats, Planes, and any other land, sea, and air travel and navigation listed below are based on the following criteria as reviewed, experienced, and revealed by users, consumers, drivers, and product reviewing experts. The comparable features and powerful capabilities of these cool tools, driving gadgets, and helpful travel and navigation devices are mainly:

Precision and Accuracy
Ease of use
User friendliness
Display Screen Size, Screen Resolution, Color Display
Voice Recognition, Audio, Video and Media capabilities
Programmable Routes, Shortest and Most Reasonable Route
Live Online Traffic Updates and Services
Lane Assist and other Driver Help capabilities
Traffic Markers, Landmarks, and Navigation Waypoints
Bluetooth and wireless connectivity
Removable Memory size
Battery Type, Battery Life
GPS Dimensions (GPS Depth, Width, Height), GPS Weight
Technical support
Price to features and services ratio
Durability and working life

Top 3 GPS Navigation system brands:
1. Garmin
2. TomTom
3. Magellan

Top 5 GPS Navigation system products:
1. Garmin Nuvi 755T
2. TomTom XXL 540 S
3. Garmin Nuvi 550
4. Magellan Maestro 4350
5. Garmin Nuvi 265WT

Coaxial Cable vs Fiber-optic Cable Technology

Below are the main and basic differences between coaxial cable and fiber-optic technology. I tried to use layman's terms to explain the differences, comparison and similarities. There are 4 categories that I used to show the characteristics and features of both.

I have tried to distinguish using simple terms the two popular technologies, coaxial cable and fiber-optic cable and used 4 categories which are Material used, Technology behind, advantages of using and setup, and commercial and home applications of both. Any additional information and comments from the experts are welcomed, thanks in advance.


Material used for Coaxial Cable:
- Copper core cable shielded by Air gap
- Co-axial cable (sharing the same axis or center) consists of an outer and inner part with the outer part used as a protection from electrical interference while the inner part carries the electric signal

- uses electromagnetic field technology to carry the signal
- coax cable uses electricity, electric signals (electrons) to transfer data
- copper core of the coaxial cable carries an analog signal

Advantages of Coaxial Cable:
- coaxial cables can be used near metallic objects without loss of power
- protects the signal from having interference with an electromagnetic source such as electronic devices around
- coaxial cable easily fits on the input jack of the receiver and no problems with kinks -

Uses and Applications of Coaxial Cable:
- carry telephone and data signals
- distribution of cable television signals from Cable TV provider companies
- Coaxial cable is used to transmit radio frequency signals
- connect radio transmitters to the antenna
- connect radio signal receiver to the antenna
- connecting home, office, business computer network
- LAN (local area network) internet connections
- WAN (wide area network) internet connections



Material used for Fiber-optic cable:
- thin hollow fiber glass made of silica

- fiber of thin hollow silica glass is used as a small pipe to transmit light particles containing signals and data information between the two ends of the fiber
- fiber-optics cable uses light (photons) to transfer data
- optical fibre carries a digital signal

Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable:
- flexibility of the cable (however, kinks distort the signal)
- transparent properties of fiber optic cable
- can be transmitted over longer distances with minimal or no losses
- allows data to be transferred at higher bandwidths
- can be curved around a corner during installation but can not be bent (signal distortion)
- data transmission through the strands of fiber optic glass is faster

Uses and Applications of Fiber-optic cables:
- fiber-optic communication companies,
- fiber optic cable tv distribution to houses and businesses
- used to carry telephone, television, and data signals within a wider band of frequencies

See also:



Ipad and Ipad 2: Comparison, Differences, Similarities, and Technical Specifications

How to remove the hard drive from a dead laptop?


How to insert and install a laptop hard drive into a 2.5 inch USB SATA hard drive enclosure


How to take ownership, control, and have access to a file or folder(s) from an old hard drive


What is speaker channel, Tuner, Pre-amplifier, Power Amplifier, Audio Video Receiver, Home Theater Entertainment system?





LCD TV vs. PLASMA TV: advantages and disadvantages


How to put media (pictures, music, videos) from computer to TV


How to put PIN on Shaw Cable TV Parental Control


How to connect Set Top Box Receiver to your Home Theatre System and then to the TV using two HDMI cables


How to play videos, hear music & view photos from smartphone to TV using your TV's USB port


How to create music playlist for My Book Live network hard drive and play it on TV


How to view pdf, word, excel, rtf, text files and other computer documents on my TV


Television Technology: History, Development, Improvement, Innovation, and Advances of TV technologies


Pixels, DPI (dots per inch), Resolution and Image Sizes




How to unlock mobile phone SIM card


How to use Smartphone to access internet on Laptop computer


How to share contacts and send photos from one smartphone to another using Bluetooth


Solar Powered Smartphones


How to remove green plus + sign in notification bar on your smartphone




How to clean Laptop fan


How to prevent the loud computer fan noise on startup


How to upload photos and videos from digital camera to laptop or desktop computer


How to create a strong password that is hard to guess


How to protect your computer from virus, spyware, and malware attack


How Virus, Spyware, Trojan, Malware, Worms attack your laptop or desktop computer




How to Secure your Computer Network


How to setup & configure a fast, secure, organized and efficient home network


How to block an ip address in your router


How to enable port forwarding on your router


How to copy or share files or folders with guest user login on Microsoft Windows Network Workgroup




How to download Facebook albums easily in Firefox


Warnings on using Facebook


How to disable Skype Update prompts on startup


How to delete browser cookies? How do I erase a cookie in my browser? How to clear the cookies in your browser?


How to save and restore Mozilla Firefox Bookmarks


How to enable private browsing in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox


How to clean up, clear up, and secure your Mozilla Firefox internet browser and Internet Explorer browser


How to speed up my browser (Internet Explorer & Mozilla Firefox)


List of Top 10 Most Visited Websites in the World


Search Engine Optimization (SEO): How to increase site traffic and earn money online


How to recover deleted posts on Blogger (Blogspot) and republish


How to host a website from home


How to securely browse the internet? How to ensure my online transaction is secure




How to change lowercase to UPPERCASE letters in Word


How to remove the password of Read-only Word document & Save


How to add bullets in Notepad, Word, Powerpoint, Excel (keyboard shortcuts)


How to change the date format in Excel


How to remove duplicate records in Microsoft Excel



Speed up Windows computer by performing Disk Cleanup


How to speed up boot up time of Windows & How to optimize Windows performance


How to setup or configure Parental Controls in Windows 7


Shortcut keys for Windows, Windows Explorer, Word, Internet Explorer, Firefox, & Google Chrome


How to add an exception to Windows Firewall


How to edit, add, or remove Startup programs in Windows


How to clean up the Add or Remove Programs tool utility in Control Panel


Byte: a basic unit of data storage capacity in consumer electronics, devices, and products




Coaxial Cable vs Fiber-optic Cable Technology


What is GPS (Global Positioning System), How does GPS work?


How technology and complexity impacts society - an essay


Radiation hazards, dangers, and effects on human




Biasing, Forward-biased, Reversed-biased, Zero-biased in diode, p-n junction


Droop Frequency, Droop Speed, Voltage Droop


THERMODYNAMICS - First law of thermodynamics, conservation of energy, internal energy


Thermodynamic Processes


Thermodynamics: PV Work: compression-expansion work


Thermodynamics - Specific heats at constant pressure, volume, Specific heat ratio, Gas constants


Thermodynamics - Enthalpy, internal energy, pv work, saturated liquid, vapor, quality


Useful Engineering Verbs for resumes, engineering manuals, presentations and documentation


MATHEMATICS and ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING: Joint and Combined Variation - Wire resistance, length, area




CHEMISTRY, CHEMICAL ENGINEERING: Periodic Table Elements - Roots, Origin, Etymology of Names


CHEMICAL ENGINEERING: Chemistry - Molecular weight, molar mass, molecular mass, moles, Avogadro's number, molecules


MECHANICAL ENGINEERING: Thermodynamics - Closed system, piston-cylinder, Boyle's law, Constant Temperature, Parabolic curve


MECHANICAL ENGINEERING: Thermodynamics - Atmospheric, Barometric, Gage, Absolute, and Vacuum pressure


MECHANICAL ENGINEERING: Pump work - work done by a pump in lifting a fluid


MECHANICAL ENGINEERING: Springs - connected in series, parallel


All My Blogs:





Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Solar Powered Smartphones

Negative news about solar power handsets

Nokia and some solar-powered smartphone research teams concluded that this technology was impractical. Their test project was conducted in various regions of the world including the Arctic Circle all the way to the African continent. The prototype test phones were constructed with a solar panel at the back of the phone to provide power from the sun in areas where no electrical outlets are available. According to their test results, the power output from the solar panel was able to keep the smartphone on standby mode but is insufficient to keep the phone running under normal applications such as web surfing, playing video and audio, messaging and calling. This limited power according to them was because of the small area of the solar panel and the difficulty with exposure to sunlight especially in the some areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

Don't pay so much attention to these negative thinkers! The good news is, there are already a number of promising developments in solar-powered smartphones.

Smartphone displays with solar cells

It is undeniable, yes, smartphones are technologically advanced in terms of applications, speed, 3D graphics, gaming, Wi-fi, and GPS... but these all drain the battery in a frustratingly very short period of time. You will end up desperately looking for an electrical outlet to charge your mobile device. This is the main reason why researchers are constantly developing longer lasting batteries and looking for ways to conserve energy and improve battery efficiency.

A research team from the University of Cambridge in UK is working on a prototype handset that generates power to run the phone from surrounding light sources available. This smartphone solar power source is achieved by utilizing an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display that is made of solar cells. Because typical displays only require about 36% of the light to generate images, the model was incorporated with photovoltaic cells (solar cells or photoelectric cells used to directly convert light energy into electricity) all around the edges of the display screen. These cells can capture the light energy that escapes from the edges of the screen thereby conserving and reusing the energy. If this technology will become successful in the near future, it would solve most of the battery power shortage problems that we experience today due to power hungry applications running in smartphones.

Solar powered smartphones without solar panels

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed an LCD screen display that does not need solar panels for recharging. The innovative screen is able to charge the battery using any available light source, indoors or outdoors. This means that it can use the light energy from the sun, fluorescent lamp, study lamp, light from a TV, laptop, and even the smartphone's own backlight to charge its battery. The special LCD is constructed with photovoltaics which convert the energy from the polarizing sheet with little or no waste of energy.

Samsung solar-powered laptops and smartphones

During the 2011 IFA consumer electronics trade fair demos and exhibitions in Berlin, Samsung featured a partially solar-powered laptop called the Samsung Note PC having a solar panel on its lid as well as a solar-powered smartphone with a solar panel for charging its battery. Samsung previously developed the Blue Earth smartphone and notebook computers which utilized solar panels for charging these devices' batteries. The Blue Earth was the first solar cell phone designed to be an environment-friendly mobile device. It has a charging rate of up to 40 mAh per hour. Samsung is planning to manufacture in mass production smartphones and tablets with solar panels in the coming years.

Solar-powered consumer electronic devices are coming soon! Apple is also planning to produce smartphones and tablet computers with solar panels in their products such as the famous iPhone and iPad devices. Solar technology firms such as SolarPrint in Ireland said they successfully imitated how plants harness energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. The company further said they were able to harvest ambient or diffuse light in any angle. Wysips, a French-based technology firm has developed a transparent coating for LED screens which can be used in a smartphone to allow it to fully recharge in about 6 hours under direct sunlight. The LED display screen is also able to charge using ambient light and indoor lighting which takes longer time to charge compared to the sun's light rays.

Solar panels exposed to direct sunlight for 1 hour can translate into 20 minutes of talk time. This means that when exposed for 3 hours, the solar powered smartphone can provide 60 minutes (1 hour) of talk time. Some solar panels provide about 3:1 exposure time to usable time. Some solar powered smartphones with better technology can harvest half an hour of talk time after 1 hour of charging time under direct sunlight. This equates to 2:1 exposure to talk time ratio. Solar powered smartphones can be recharged in about 6 hours under direct sunlight.

Smartphone and Laptop Batteries

Old laptops previously used Ni-Cad (Nickel-Cadmium) batteries as a secondary source of power. These batteries however drained quickly and were hazardous to the environment if not disposed properly. As a result, NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) batteries were used and they provided longer running lives, better efficiency, and eco-friendly alternative source of power. NiMH batteries can be charged up to 500-1000 times and last longer than alkaline or NiCd batteries.

Nowadays, laptops and smartphones use Lithium-ion and Lithium polymer batteries. These batteries have lower discharge rates, lasts longer, and offer better efficiency than NiMH batteries. Lithium phone batteries usually have 300 to 500 charge and discharge cycles.

Charging times

The mAh capacity of a battery is the amount of electrical energy that the battery is able to store. A battery with a storage capacity rating of 1880 mAh can deliver a total current of 1880 mA for a period of 1 hour. My Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone has a battery capacity of 1880 mAh and allows me to use it for a continuous time of 6 to 10 hours depending on the running applications which consume big power such as video and audio playback, wi-fi web browsing, or 3G/4G internet surfing. Batteries with higher mAh capacity ratings will last longer and provide longer usage time.

To calculate how long is the charging time for a rechargeable battery, divide the battery's storage capacity (mAh) by the charger output current in mA.

Charging time = Storage capacity/Charger output current

Motorola's dual core processor Atrix 4G smartphone has a battery capacity of 1880 mAh. The charger output specifications indicate 5.1 V and 850 mA output current. Determine how long does it take to fully charge the smartphone when it is fully drained.


Charging time = Storage capacity/Charger output current

Charging time = 1880 mAh/850 mA

Charging time = 1880/850

Charging time = 2.2 hours

Battery life of current smartphone models (2012):

Battery life specifications provided by vendors are very frustratingly deceptive and misleading.

They would indicate a 10 hour usage time but in reality this is actually only 5 hours (half). What is the reason? Because they would like their product to sound good and look good and be sold, therefore, they cheat. They conduct their test under light load conditions. They test the battery with 40 to 50 percent screen brightness, Wi-Fi feature is turned off, no video or audio playback, etc. These do not reflect normal regular usage of smartphone owners. The worst thing is, they hide these testing conditions in fine print or even do not print it at all. May God admonish you, you cheating sellers and liars!

Two of 2012's smartphones with the best battery performance are the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx 4G and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. Using the Laptop Battery Test with 40% brightness and continuous web surfing over 3G and 4G networks, these handsets lasted for at least 8 hours. The Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx 4G smartphone has dual-core processors and 8-MP camera. It has a Lithium ion battery with a capacity of 3300 mAh which can be used for a continuous talk time of up to 1290 minutes (21 hours) and standby time of up to 380 hours.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is a smartphone and a gaming platform. This is a cell phone and a Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) console in one. Under the LAPTOP Battery Test conditions, this mobile device lasted for an almost 10 hours of continuous running time, making it one of the longest lasting smartphone batteries of the year.

Smartphone solar chargers

Typical smartphones have 6 to 10 hours of continuous use under normal running of applications. It is often frustrating that you run out of battery power even before lunch time. Heavy smartphone users either carry a second battery pack as a backup and a solar charger in case of lack of power charging outlet.

While waiting for the solar-powered smartphones, tablets and laptop computers to be mass-produced, electronic gadget users can use solar chargers for the meantime. Additionally, for heavy users of eletronic devices, they can bring with them an extra battery pack. Commercially available solar chargers are designed to be used as a battery charger and a backup source of power for Cell Phones, Smartphones, iPhones, iPods, MP3 players, Bluetooth headsets, and most USB-powered devices. The best solar chargers have a built-in Lithium Ion battery that can be charged through a computer or electrical outlet using the provided USB cable as well as using energy from sunlight via the solar panel. These solar chargers are perfect for both indoor and outdoor usage which is very handy and useful for campers, hikers, and travelers.

Typical solar chargers have charging capacities of 2,000 to 10,000 mAh. One of the largest capacity solar chargers has 23,000 mAh for smartphones, iPods, iPhones and iPad tablets. The charger DC output current is 2A (2000 mA) with 9V, 12V, or 16V output voltage. Under USB, the charger output current is 2A and 5V output voltage.

Commercially available solar chargers include a built-in lithium-polymer battery with 10 charging tips (adapters) with USB port to maximize compatibility. These 10 mobile-device connecting tips, extension cable and USB port ensure the solar charger is compatible with most smartphones from manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung, LG, HTC, Palm, Blackberry, Apple, Motorola, and Nokia. Also, these 10 connector charging tips can be fitted for charging most Bluetooth devices, GPS, digital cameras, PSP gaming consoles, eBook readers, tablets, Nintendo DS, Amazon Kindle, and other electronic devices.