Okay, so not thin air.
Future computers could pull all the energy they require out of air that's thick with radio waves.
A team of electrical engineers from the University of Washington and Delft University of Technology have made a tiny computer that doesn't require a battery or wired energy source, drawing the energy it needs out of radio waves.
The Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform (WISP) isn't able to do much 'heavy lifting': by sucking energy out of the air it's able to power some small sensors and transmit data to other, more potent gadgets. At present, the WISP requires a wired link for reprogramming, but the research teams are currently working on the next model that will allow the tiny computer to be programmed by the same radio waves that are powering it.
While the technology is still in its infancy, it holds huge potential for making everyday household objects a lot smarter. The 'Internet of Things' has already seen smart lightbulbs and clever fridges enter homes, but computer chips that don't need batteries could add countless new possibilities: imagine every small gadget you own with a battery and you could stick one of these in it.
If you want to melt your brain with the details of how the WISP works, you can read the research paper here.
Kids of the next generation may never understand the true pain of owning an iPhone that needs recharging before dinner.
[Via: The Hacker News]