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Title:
SYSTEMS CAPABLE OF SELF-HARVESTING ENERGY FROM WIRELESS DEVICES AND METHODS OF USING THE SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/061181
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A system and method for self-harvesting energy from a wireless device and supplementing the battery power of the wireless device using the self-harvested energy includes the steps of collecting at least a portion of radio frequency signals transmitted by the wireless device; converting the collected radio frequency signals from radio frequency signals to direct current energy; further converting the direct current energy to energy compatible with charging requirements for a battery electrically connected to the wireless device; and transferring the compatible energy to the battery of the wireless device through a wireless device interface in order to add the compatible energy to the battery.

Inventors:
CHEN, Chi-Chih (6639 Westbury Drive, Dublin, OH, 43016, US)
TALLOS, Roland, Kyle (125 West Congress Street, Polk, OH, 44866, US)
KOKSAL, Can, E. (10 Wiveliscombe, New Albany, OH, 43054, US)
SHROFF, Ness, B. (8089 Summerhouse Drive West, Dublin, OH, 43016, US)
Application Number:
US2015/055461
Publication Date:
April 21, 2016
Filing Date:
October 14, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
OHIO STATE INNOVATION FOUNDATION (1524 North High Street, Columbus, OH, 43201, US)
CHEN, Chi-Chih (6639 Westbury Drive, Dublin, OH, 43016, US)
TALLOS, Roland, Kyle (125 West Congress Street, Polk, OH, 44866, US)
KOKSAL, Can, E. (10 Wiveliscombe, New Albany, OH, 43054, US)
SHROFF, Ness, B. (8089 Summerhouse Drive West, Dublin, OH, 43016, US)
International Classes:
H02J17/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILLER, Amanda, M. et al. (Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP, 200 Public SquareSuite 230, Cleveland OH, 44114, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A system, wherein the system is configured to self-harvest at least a portion of radio frequency signals transmitted by an associated wireless device that is configured to transmit radio frequency signals; and wherein the system is further configured to convert the collected radio frequency signals from radio frequency signals to a direct current signal compatible with charging requirements of the wireless device in order to supplement an electrical charge of a battery electrically connected to the wireless device.

2. The system claim 1, wherein the system is embedded within or integral with the wireless device.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the system is removably attached to the wireless device.

4. The system claim 1, wherein the system is permanently attached to the wireless device.

5. The system of claim 1 further comprising:

a set of converting circuitry configured to convert at least some of the radio frequency signals transmitted by the wireless device to a direct current signal;

a set of power management circuitry electrically connected to the set of converting circuitry, wherein the set of power management circuitry is configured to produce the direct current power compatible with charging requirements for the battery; and

a wireless device interface electrically connected to the set of power management circuitry, wherein the wireless device interface is configured to transfer the direct current power produced by the set of power management circuitry to the battery of the wireless device.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the system further comprises a first receiving antenna, wherein the first receiving antenna is disposed in close proximity to a first transmitting antenna and is capable of collecting at least a portion of the radio frequency signals transmitted by the first transmitting antenna.

7. The system of claim 5, wherein the set of converting circuitry includes a rectifier circuit.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein the set of converting circuitry further includes a harmonics harvesting circuit.

9. The system of claim 5, wherein the set of power management circuitry includes a DC to DC converter, an output voltage regulator and control circuit, and a storage device.

10. The wireless device of claim 5, wherein the set of power management circuitry further includes an output voltage level control circuit.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein the wireless device is a wireless device manufactured or sold by Apple Inc.

12. The system of claim 1, wherein the wireless device is a wireless device manufactured or sold by Samsung.

13. The system of claim 6, wherein the first receiving antenna is configured to receive Wi-Fi signals.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the system further includes a second receiving antenna capable of receiving radio frequency signals, wherein the second receiving antenna is disposed in close proximity to a second transmitting antenna.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the second antenna is configured to receive cellular signals.

16. A method of self-harvesting energy from an associated wireless device and supplementing the battery power of the wireless device using the self-harvested energy, the method comprising:

collecting at least a portion of radio frequency signals transmitted by the associated wireless device;

converting the collected radio frequency signals from radio frequency signals to direct current energy;

further converting the direct current energy to energy compatible with charging requirements for a battery electrically connected to the associated wireless device;

transferring the compatible energy to the battery of the associated wireless device through a wireless device interface in order to add the compatible energy to the battery.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the collection step comprises using a receiving antenna to collect the radio frequency signals transmitted by the associated wireless device.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the first converting step comprises using a rectifier circuit to produce an output of the rectifier circuit and filtering out remaining alternating current signals from the output of the rectifier circuit.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein second converting step comprises changing the power level of the filtered output of the rectifier circuit to the direct current power level compatible with charging requirements for the associated wireless device.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the changing the power level comprises:

charging a storage element;

determining a storage power level of the storage element; and disconnecting from the battery of the associated wireless device, when the storage power level is less than the direct current power level.

21. A radio frequency energy harvesting system comprising:

a first receiving antenna capable of receiving radio frequency signals, wherein the first receiving antenna is disposed in close proximity to a first transmitting antenna;

an impedance matching circuit electrically connected to the first receiving antenna;

a set of converting circuitry electrically connected to the impedance matching circuit, wherein the set of converting circuitry is configured to convert at least some of the radio frequency signals received by the first antenna to a direct current signal;

a set of power management circuitry electrically connected to the set of converting circuitry, wherein the set of power management circuitry comprises a DC to DC converter and an output voltage regulator and control circuit and is configured to produce direct current power capable of supplementing the battery power of a wireless device battery from the direct current signal; and

a wireless device interface electrically connected to the set of power management circuitry, wherein the wireless device interface configured to transfer the direct current power produced by the set of power management circuitry to a wireless device.

22. The energy harvesting system of claim 21, wherein the set of converting circuitry includes a rectifier circuit.

23. The energy harvesting system of claim 22, wherein the set of converting circuitry further includes a harmonics harvesting circuit.

24. The energy harvesting system of claim 21, wherein the set of power management circuitry further includes a storage device.

25. The energy harvesting system of claim 21, wherein the set of power management circuitry further includes an output voltage level control circuit.

26. The energy harvesting system of claim 21, wherein the first receiving antenna is configured to receive Wi-Fi signals.

27. The energy harvesting system of claim 26, wherein the system further includes a second receiving antenna capable of receiving radio frequency signals, wherein the second receiving antenna is disposed in close proximity to a second transmitting antenna.

28. The energy harvesting system of claim 27, wherein the second antenna is configured to receive cellular signals.

29. The energy harvesting system of claim 28, wherein the system is configured to combine an output of the first antenna and an output of the second antenna before a combined antenna output is transmitted to the impedance matching circuit.

30. The energy harvesting system of claim 29, wherein the system is configured to combine an output of the first antenna and an output of the second antenna before a combined antenna output is transmitted to the wireless device interface.

31. The energy harvesting system of claim 30, wherein the system further comprises: a second impedance matching circuit;

a second set of converting circuitry electrically connected to the second impedance matching circuit, wherein the second set of converting circuitry is configured to convert at least some of the radio frequency signals received by the second antenna to a second direct current signal; a second set of power management circuitry electrically connected to the second impedance matching circuit, wherein the second set of power management circuitry comprises a second DC to DC converter and a second output voltage regulator and control circuit and is configured to produce direct current power capable of supplementing the battery life of a wireless device battery from the second direct current signal.

32. The energy harvesting system of claim 21, wherein the system is embedded within the wireless device.

33. A case for use with a wireless device, wherein the case includes an energy harvesting system comprising:

a first receiving antenna capable of receiving radio frequency signals, wherein the first receiving antenna is disposed in close proximity to a first transmitting antenna;

an impedance matching circuit electrically connected to the first receiving antenna;

a set of converting circuitry electrically connected to the impedance matching circuit, wherein the set of converting circuitry is configured to convert at least some of the radio frequency signals received by the first antenna to a direct current signal;

a set of power management circuitry electrically connected to the set of converting circuitry, wherein the set of power management circuitry comprises a DC to DC converter and an output voltage regulator and control circuit and is configured to produce direct current power capable of supplementing the battery power of a wireless device battery from the direct current signal; and a wireless device interface electrically connected to the set of power management circuitry, wherein the wireless device interface is configured to transfer the direct current power produced by the set of power management circuitry to a wireless device.

34. The case of claim 33, wherein the energy harvesting system is embedded within the case.

35. The case of claim 33, wherein the energy harvesting system is removably attached to the case.

36. The case of claim 33, wherein the energy harvesting system is fixedly attached to the case.

37. A method of supplementing the battery power of a wireless device comprising: providing the wireless device having a battery;

connecting, electrically, the battery of the wireless device to an energy harvesting system, the system comprising:

a first receiving antenna capable of receiving radio frequency signals, wherein the first receiving antenna is disposed in close proximity to a first transmitting antenna;

an impedance matching circuit electrically connected to the first receiving antenna;

a set of converting circuitry electrically connected to the impedance matching circuit, wherein the set of converting circuitry is configured to convert at least some of the radio frequency signals received by the first antenna to a direct current signal;

a set of power management circuitry electrically connected to the impedance matching circuit, wherein the set of power management circuitry comprises a DC to DC converter and an output voltage regulator and control circuit and is configured to produce direct current power capable of supplementing the battery life of a wireless device battery from the direct current signal; and

a wireless device interface electrically connected to the set of power management circuitry, wherein the wireless device interface is configured to transfer the direct current power produced by the set of power management circuitry to a wireless device.

Description:
SYSTEMS AND CAPABLE OF SELF-HARVESTING ENERGY FROM WIRELESS

DEVICES AND METHODS OF USING THE SAME

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62,174,176 filed on June 11, 2015 entitled Systems Capable of Self-Harvesting Energy From Wireless Devices and Methods of Using the Same; U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/171,099 filed on June 4, 2015 entitled Energy Harvesting System for Use with Wireless Devices and Methods of Using the Same; and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/063,432 filed on October 14, 2014 entitled Energy Harvesting Wireless Mobile Device. Those applications are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.

FIELD OF INVENTION

[0002] The disclosure relates to a system capable of collecting radio frequency energy from an associated wireless device and converting it into direct current (DC) power for use in prolonging or extending the battery life of associated wireless devices. More specifically, the disclosure is related to energy harvesting systems that may be embedded into a protective case or cover of or otherwise attached to a wireless device, such as a phone or tablet, in order to collect and convert radio frequency energy from that device for use in prolonging or extending the battery life of the wireless device battery.

BACKGROUND

[0003] In use, only a small fraction of the radio frequency (RF) energy transmitted by smartphones and other wireless devices is used to communicate with a wireless access point, such as a cellular base station or a wireless network router. This is because small wireless devices, including mobile wireless devices, transmit RF signals in all directions from the device in order to ensure uninterrupted communication, regardless of the orientation of the wireless device.

[0004] It would be useful to collect or harvest the unused RF signals in order to convert them, for example, to direct current (DC) power and supplement the capacity of the wireless device battery. However, existing RF energy harvesting designs have been unable to efficiently collect and convert RF signals sent on different frequencies and at different signal strengths without adversely affecting the cellular signal strength and data transmission rates.

SUMMARY

[0005] In one embodiment, a system is configured to self-harvest at least a portion of radio frequency signals transmitted by an associated wireless device that is configured to transmit radio frequency signals and convert the collected radio frequency signals from radio frequency signals to a direct current signal compatible with charging requirements of the wireless device in order to supplement an electrical charge of a battery electrically connected to the wireless device.

[0006] In another embodiment, a wireless device is configured to transmit radio frequency signals and to self-harvest energy from the radio frequency signals transmitted in order to supplement an electrical charge of a battery electrically connected to the wireless device. The wireless device may include a self-harvesting system that is configured to collect at least a portion of the radio frequency signals transmitted by the wireless device and convert the collected radio frequency signals from radio frequency signals to a direct current signal compatible with charging requirements for the battery. The system may include a set of converting circuitry configured to convert at least some of the radio frequency signals transmitted by the wireless device to a direct current signal, a set of power management circuitry electrically connected to the set of converting circuitry, wherein the set of power management circuitry is configured to produce the direct current power compatible with charging requirements for the battery, and a wireless device interface electrically connected to the set of power management circuitry, wherein the wireless device interface is configured to transfer the direct current power produced by the set of power management circuitry to the battery of the wireless device.

[0007] In another embodiment, a method of self-harvesting energy from a wireless device and supplementing the battery power of the wireless device using the self-harvested energy includes the steps of collecting at least a portion of radio frequency signals transmitted by the wireless device; converting the collected radio frequency signals from radio frequency signals to direct current energy; further converting the direct current energy to energy compatible with charging requirements for a battery electrically connected to the wireless device; and transferring the compatible energy to the battery of the wireless device through a wireless device interface in order to add the compatible energy to the battery.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The accompanying figures, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate various example systems, apparatuses, and methods, and are used merely to illustrate various example embodiments. In the figures, like elements bear like reference numerals.

[0009] FIG. 1A is a schematic representation of one example of a wireless device cover including a RF energy harvesting system. [0010] FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of another embodiment of the RF energy harvesting system.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of another embodiment of the RF energy harvesting system.

[0012] FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of another embodiment of the RF energy harvesting system.

[0013] FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of the circuitry used in one embodiment of an RF energy harvesting system.

[0014] FIG. 6 is a flow chart illustrating another embodiment of the RF energy harvesting system.

[0015] FIG. 7 is a plan view of one embodiment of the RF energy harvesting system attached to a smartphone.

[0016] FIG. 8 is a top view and a bottom view of the RF energy harvesting system of FIG. 7.

[0017] FIG. 9 is a chart illustrating the discharging behavior of a smartphone battery equipped with and without the RF energy harvesting of FIG. 8 system over time.

[0018] FIG. 10 is a chart illustrating the amount of time needed to exhaust 50% of smartphone battery level for smartphones equipped with and without the RF energy harvesting system of FIG. 8.

[0019] FIGS, ll(a-c) are exploded plan views of an embodiment of a protective cover including an RF energy harvesting system used with an associated smartphone. [0020] FIG. lid is an assembled plan view of the protective cover of FIGS. 7(a-c) in use with an associated smartphone.

[0021] FIG. 12a is a top view of one embodiment of a motherboard embedded with the RF energy harvesting system.

[0022] FIG. 12b is a bottom view of the motherboard of FIG. 12a.

[0023] FIG. 13 is a chart illustrating the decrease over time in battery level by percentage of charge for smartphones equipped with and without an RF energy harvesting system.

[0024] FIG. 14 is a chart illustrating the per minute percentage of decrease in battery level for smartphones equipped with and without an RF energy harvesting system.

[0025] FIG. 15 is a graphical representation of the effect of the use of an RF energy harvesting system on the data rate of the associated smartphones equipped with and without a RF energy harvesting system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0026] Wireless devices transmit RF signals to surrounding wireless access points, such as cellular towers, when the device user sends or receives an email, makes a phone call, or searches the internet. As used herein, the phrase "RF signal," can mean electromagnetic radiation having wavelengths that correspond to a frequency band from about 3 kHZ to about 300 GHz. However, only a small portion of those signals are actually used for proper communication. In one embodiment, a RF energy harvesting system may be connected to the wireless device in order to enable that device to "self-harvest" its own radio frequency signals. For example, when transmitted from the phone, the near- field RF signals from the phone that are not used for data or voice communication are collected by the associated system, converted from RF to DC power, and charged back to the battery of the phone, prolonging the time that it takes to deplete the battery's charge. This type of self-collection will be referred to as a device's ability to "self- harvest" its own radio frequency signals by using an associated RF energy harvesting system. In one embodiment, use of the system with an associated wireless device reduces the battery consumption rate by up to 30% without affecting the device's communication quality or data rate. Batteries of wireless devices have a certain amount of capacity, for example - a certain amount of data or communications that the device can process, usually measured over a length of time. This amount of time that it takes for the battery to deplete a 100% charge to 0% charge is commonly referred to as the "life" of the battery. It should be understood that the RF energy harvesting system does not add to the capacity of the battery. Rather, the system adds an electrical charge to the battery, thereby prolonging or extending the life of that battery and increasing the length of time that it takes or the amount of data that can be transmitted and received before a particular battery is drained to 0% of its charge.

[0027] For the purpose of this description, the wireless device will be referred to as a "phone" but it should be understood that the wireless device may be any device, mobile or not, that wirelessly sends and receives RF signals. Moreover, the energy harvesting system will be described as embedded in a case or cover for the phone, but it should also be understood that the system may be connected to the phone by other means including, but not limited to, being embedded in the phone itself, removably or fixedly attached to a removable case or cover for the phone, and removably attached to the phone. [0028] Referring now to Fig. 1, in one embodiment an RF energy harvesting system 10 ("the system") may be embedded in a case or protective cover 11 for a smartphone (hereinafter "the phone"). The system 10 may include one or more receiving antenna 12 that is tuned to receive RF signals within a desired band of frequency. For example, as shown in Fig. 1, the system 10 may include a first receiving antenna 12a for harvesting Wi-Fi RF signals and a second receiving antenna 12b configured to harvest cellular RF signals (e.g., frequencies corresponding to 3G, 4G, CDMA, or the like). The system 10 may also include signal converting circuitry 14 configured to convert the energy collected from the receiving antenna(s) 12 from alternating current (AC) power to direct current (DC) power. The system 10 may further include power management circuitry 16 configured to produce DC power capable of adding an electrical charge to a phone battery. Finally, the system 10 may also include a wireless device interface 18 configured to connect the system 10 to the phone. It is noted that the Figures provided herein can utilize arrowed lines or lines terminated in dots to indicate that components are electrically connected. It is furthermore noted that the phrase "electrically connected" can mean a conductive path is provided directly between multiple components or indirectly between two components with an interceding component such that an electrical signal can be transmitted via the conductive path.

[0029] Referring now to Fig. 2, in another embodiment, the system 10 includes at least one receiving antenna 12, a set of converting circuitry 14, an RF choke 28, a set of power management circuitry 16, and a wireless device interface 18 configured to communicate with the wireless device/phone 20. First, the receiving antenna 12 may be designed to mitigate energy loss during the reception of the energy from the phone, while not interfering with the cellular and data transmission rates. Most smartphones use multiple antennas, installed at different locations around the phone, to send and receive RF signals of different signal levels and at different frequency bands. For example, Wi-Fi signals have relatively low signal levels (< -20 dBm) and transmit at frequency bands of about 2.45 GHz and about 5.9 GHz, while cellular signals transmit at frequency bands of about 800 MHz and about 1800 MHz. So, more than one receiving antenna 12 may be required in the system 10 in order to accommodate the different transmissions. Also, each receiving antenna 12 must be disposed in close proximity to the respective transmitting antenna on the phone. In one embodiment, the receiving antenna 12 is placed as far away as possible from the phone's transmitting antenna while producing 1) sufficient unregulated rectified voltage to turn on the power management circuitry 16 and 2) sufficient regulated rectified voltage to add a compatible charge to the wireless device 20. It should be understood that the placement of the receiving antenna 12 relative to the corresponding transmitting phone antenna will vary depending on the design of the phone, the topology and efficiency of the converter circuitry 14, and the turn-on voltage threshold of the power management circuitry 16. In another embodiment, the receiving antenna 12 is disposed a predetermined number of wavelengths from the transmitting antenna of the associated wireless device 20. It should be understood that the predetermined number will vary depending on the design of the associated wireless device 20.

[0030] As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the signals collected by multiple receiving antennas 12 can be combined using at least two different methods. First, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the signals may be collected by separate receiving antenna 12a and 12b and combined only after the power management circuitries 16a and 16b have converted the AC power to DC power. This method includes two separate energy harvesting systems embedded in to the case or cover. This configuration can improve rectifying efficiency because the impedance matching circuitries 22a and 22b and the converter circuitries 14a and 14b can be tuned (i.e., per the maximum power- transfer theorem) separately for each frequency band of signal being received. Specifically, the impedance can be matched to the output impedance of the associated receiving antenna at its frequency band of operation. However, this configuration does consume more space and include more components.

[0031] As shown in FIG. 4, the outputs of the receiving antennas 12a and 12b may be combined before being transmitted through the impedance matching circuit 22. Although this configuration requires less components, cutting down on both cost and space, a reduction in rectifying efficiency can be observed for each frequency band of signals being received.

[0032] Once the energy is collected by the receiving antenna 12, the energy is transmitted through the impedance matching circuit 22 and the converting circuitry 14. The converting circuitry 14 includes a rectifier circuit 24. The impedance matching circuit 22 is configured to mitigate losses and increase the amount of AC power collected by the receiving antenna 12 and transmitted to the rectifying circuit 24. It should be understood that any suitable impedance matching circuit 22 may be used in the system 10. The impedance matching circuit 22 then transmits the collected AC power to the rectifier circuit 24 to be converted to DC power. The rectifier circuit 24 can comprise any device capable of converting the collected AC power to DC power such as, for example, a half-wave rectifier or a full-wave rectifier. In one embodiment, the rectifier circuit 24 can be configured to provide full-wave rectification of the AC power. Accordingly, the rectifier circuit 24 can comprise low barrier Schottky diodes in a two-stage Dickson charge pump topology.

[0033] Referring again to FIG. 2, using the two-stage Dickson charge pump topology has been found to quadruple the output voltage of the rectifier circuit 24, helping to ensure that the voltage at the input of the management and storage circuitry 16 is sufficiently high. However, it is contemplated that other topologies may be used. It should be understood that the rectifier circuit 24 can be specifically tuned for the specific signal levels and frequency associated with the target phone to improve AC to DC conversion efficiency.

[0034] In an alternative embodiment, the converting circuitry 14 may include a harmonics harvester 26 to improve the efficiency of power conversion from AC to DC power. One such harmonics harvester 26 is described in International Application No. PCT/US 14/70087, filed on December 12, 2014, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0035] Once converted from AC to DC power, the energy is transmitted through an RF choke 28 to the power management circuitry 16. The RF choke 28, in one embodiment an inductor, is used to block any unconverted AC power, while passing the DC power to the power management circuitry 16. The power management circuitry 16 is used to regulate the harvested DC power and ensure that it is compatible with the charging requirements of the target phone.

[0036] In one embodiment, the power management circuitry 16 operates in two stages. First, the DC voltage from the RF choke 28 is stepped up to a higher voltage level using a DC to DC converter 30. For example, the DC voltage from the choke 28 may be stepped up to about 4.2V to about 5.1V using the DC to DC converter 30. The resulting voltage level will be determined by the charging requirements for the associated phone and specified by the output voltage level control circuit 32. Secondly, an output voltage regulation and control circuit 34 maintains a steady output voltage from the DC to DC converter 30. The power management circuitry 16 may also be configured to divert its output to charge an attached power storage device 36, such as a capacitor or a rechargeable battery. [0037] Finally, the DC power is transferred from the output voltage regulator and control circuit 34 through the wireless device interface 18 to the wireless device 20. The design of the wireless device interface 18 will vary depending on the connector type for a specific wireless device 20. For example, the wireless device interface 18 can be configured to comply with bus standards such as, but not limited to, Universal Serial Bus (USB), micro-USB, Lighting, or the like.

EXAMPLE 1

[0038] FIG. 5 illustrates an example of the circuitry used in a RF energy harvesting system. In this embodiment, at least four antennas 12a-d are used to collect RF signals in multiple cellular and Wi-Fi bands. Each antenna 12a-d is followed by an impedance matching circuit 22a-d tuned for efficient power transfer from the antenna to the converter circuitry 14a-d. In this embodiment, each set of converter circuitry 14a-d comprises a Dickson charge pump rectifier circuit that rectifies the alternating RF signals (AC) in to DC voltage via low-barrier Schottyky diodes. The DC voltage outputs of all rectifier circuits 14a-d are then filtered through an RF choke 28a-d and combined together and transmitted to the input of the power management circuitry 16.

[0039] The power management circuitry 16 is used to regulate the harvested DC voltage to ensure it is compatible with the charging requirements of the associated wireless device, in one example an iPhone 6 which requires about 5V of power to add a compatible charge to the battery. In some embodiments, the DC to DC converter 30 of the power management circuitry 16 can be provided as an power management integrated circuit such as, but not limited to, BQ25504RGTT by Texas Instruments of Dallas, TX, USA. First, the DC to DC converter 30 is activated when the combination of outputs from the converter circuitries 14a-d reaches 330mV. When activated, the power at the DC to DC converter's 30 input is extracted and it begins charging output capacitors (or any other storage device) 36 to 5.10V. The output voltage level is set by an output voltage level control 32. In this embodiment, the output voltage level control 32 includes a voltage divider composed of two resistors.

[0040] An output voltage regulator and control circuit 34 is connected to the output of the DC to DC converter 30. In this embodiment the output voltage regulator and control circuit 34 may be a PFET load switch such as, but not limited to, a TPS229xx load switch by Texas Instruments. The output voltage regulator and control circuit 34 ensures that the output of the DC to DC converter 30 is connected to the associated wireless device only when the output voltage is compatible with the charging voltage requirement of that device.

[0041] As the voltage rises and reaches 5.02V in the storage device 36, a control signal from the DC to DC convertor 30 jumps from 0V to the voltage dictated by the output voltage level control 32, which turns on the output voltage regulator and control circuit 34 and begins charging the wireless device 20 through the wireless device interface 18. During charging, the voltage will start to decrease as the electrical energy stored in the storage device 36 is transferred to the device's battery. When the voltage in the storage device 36 drops to 4.20V, the output voltage regulator and control circuit 34 will turn off and disconnect the wireless device 20 from the power management circuitry 30. This allows the voltage to rise back to 5.016V by charging the storage device 36, at which point the process repeats.

EXAMPLE 2

[0042] Referring now to FIGS. 6, 7, and 8, a sample system 10 was fabricated. The sample system 10 includes an antenna 12, an impedance matching circuit 22 including a single stub tuner, a rectifier circuit 24 including low barrier Schottky diodes in a two-stage Dickson charge pump topology, a commercial power management circuit 16, a storage device 36, and a wireless device interface 18. As shown in FIG. 7, the sample system 10 was connected to a smartphone 20. It was found that when the input power was high enough, the energy management circuit charges the phone 20 with a regulated output voltage. When the input power was not high enough to charge the phone 20, the power management circuit 16 disconnects the device from the phone 20 and stores the harvested energy in a storage element 36, in this example a super capacitor shown as a large circular device in FIGS. 7 and 8. When the energy stored in the storage device 36 became high enough again, the power management circuit 16 automatically reconnected the system to the phone in order to charge the battery. It was also found that energy was stored in the storage device 36 when the system 10 was not connected to the phone 20, but was in close proximity to the phone.

[0043] The amount of time for a phone's battery capacity to decrease from 100% to 50% was then compared between a phone with and without the sample system 10 attached. In order to ensure that both phones sent approximately the same amount of data, the test was conducted while each phone constantly downloaded a large file using a cellular network. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the battery consumption rate decreased by an average of about 24.5% when the sample system 10 was used with the phone 20. However, it is expected that under normal usage conditions, i.e. not under a constant data download, the battery consumption when using the system 10 will decrease by a much larger percentage.

EXAMPLE 3

[0044] FIGS, lla-c show an exploded view of a sample phone case for an iPhone 6 embedded with the system. As shown in FIG. 11a, for example, the phone case may include a case body 44, a case cap 46, a front plate 50, and a motherboard 48 on which the system may be embedded. The motherboard 48 may be disposed between the case body 44 and the front plate 50. The phone 20 may then be inserted between the motherboard 48 and the front plate 50 and the case cap 46 disposed about the top of the phone 20 to secure it in place, as shown in FIG. lid. The front and back of a sample motherboard 48 are shown in FIGS. 12a and 12b, respectively. In this example, the motherboard 48 includes four antennas to harvest RF energy in two Wi-Fi bands (2.4 GHz and 5.8GHz) and two LTE bands (800 MHz and 1800 MHz). In this example, the harvested DC power is charged back to the phone battery through an iPhone lightning connector at the bottom of the case.

[0045] As shown in FIG. 13, the iPhone 6 battery discharge rate during continuous data downloading using 2.4GHz Wi-Fi was tested with and without the case of Example 2. The results showed a 25% reduction in discharging battery rate over time. As shown in FIG. 14, the iPhone 6 battery discharge rate during continuous data downloading using 1750 MHz LTE was tested with and without the case of Example 2. The results also showed a reduction in discharging battery rate over time. During these tests, the data rates of the phones were monitored and recorded to make sure that the presence of the system did not affect the data rate, as demonstrated in FIG. 15. It is believed that the success of this test was due to the careful placement of the receiving antennas of the system relative to the transmitting antennas on the phone. For example, when the phone case is attached to the phone, each receiving antenna can be aligned directly behind the respective transmitting antenna of the phone.

[0046] Applicants have discovered that RF energy transmission performance (i.e., communication performance) was not degraded by the self-harvesting system. An embodiment of the system was provided with a phone case for an iPhone 6. The RF energy transmission performance of the iPhone 6 was tested with the phone case and without the phone case. The test results were compared to determine the impact that the self-harvesting system had upon RF energy transmission performance. Specifically, the over-the-air (OTA) total radiated power (TRP) and the OTA total isotropic sensitivity (TIS) of the iPhone 6 with the self-harvesting phone case and the iPhone 6 without the phone case were compared at various communication bands. A difference in performance between the test with the phone case and the test without the phone case of about -1 dB and about 1 dB was within the margin of error for the test. Thus, results between about -1 dB and about 1 dB are considered to indicate that the self-harvesting phone case does not negatively impact data quality.

[0047] At Band 2 (1850-1990 MHz), the OTA TRP of the test without the phone case was about 6.62 dBm, the OTA TRP of the test with the phone case was about 6.01 dBm, and the delta OTA TRP was about -0.61 dB. The OTA TIS of the test without the phone case was about - 93.49 dBm, the OTA TIS of the test with the phone case was about -93.85 dBm, and the delta OTA TIS was about 0.36 dB. At Band 13 (746-787 MHz), the OTA TRP of the test without the phone case was about 12.05 dBm, the OTA TRP of the test with the phone case was about 12.03 dBm, and the delta OTA TRP was about -0.02 dB. The OTA TIS of the test without the phone case was about -92.19 dBm, the OTA TIS of the test with the phone case was about -91.91 dBm, and the delta OTA TIS was about -0.28 dB. At Band 3 (1710-1880 MHz), the OTA TRP of the test without the phone case was about 9 dBm, the OTA TRP of the test with the phone case was about 10.7 dBm, and the delta OTA TRP was about 1.7 dB. The OTA TIS of the test without the phone case was about -92.78 dBm, the OTA TIS of the test with the phone case was about -91.97 dBm, and the delta OTA TIS was about -0.81 dB. For each of the aforementioned bands, the OTA TRP was within the range demonstrating no degradation in performance due to self- harvesting. Thus, the embodiments described herein can be utilized to reduce battery consumption rates of devices without negatively impacting communication quality or data rate of the devices.

[0048] To the extent that the term "includes" or "including" is used in the specification or the claims, it is intended to be inclusive in a manner similar to the term "comprising" as that term is interpreted when employed as a transitional word in a claim. Furthermore, to the extent that the term "or" is employed (e.g., A or B) it is intended to mean "A or B or both." When the applicants intend to indicate "only A or B but not both" then the term "only A or B but not both" will be employed. Thus, use of the term "or" herein is the inclusive, and not the exclusive use. See Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 624 (2d. Ed. 1995). Also, to the extent that the terms "in" or "into" are used in the specification or the claims, it is intended to additionally mean "on" or "onto." To the extent that the term "substantially" is used in the specification or the claims, it is intended to take into consideration the degree of precision available or prudent in manufacturing. To the extent that the term "selectively" is used in the specification or the claims, it is intended to refer to a condition of a component wherein a user of the apparatus may activate or deactivate the feature or function of the component as is necessary or desired in use of the apparatus. To the extent that the term "operatively connected" is used in the specification or the claims, it is intended to mean that the identified components are connected in a way to perform a designated function. As used in the specification and the claims, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" include the plural. Finally, where the term "about" is used in conjunction with a number, it is intended to include ± 10% of the number. In other words, "about 10" may mean from 9 to 11. [0049] As stated above, while the present application has been illustrated by the description of embodiments thereof, and while the embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not the intention of the applicants to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art, having the benefit of the present application. Therefore, the application, in its broader aspects, is not limited to the specific details, illustrative examples shown, or any apparatus referred to. Departures may be made from such details, examples, and apparatuses without departing from the spirit or scope of the general inventive concept.