Samsung TV Remote Charged By Wi-Fi

John Lister's picture

Samsung has made a battery-less remote control that takes power from Wi-Fi signals. It's proof the concept works, though it's still very questionable if the same approach could work on devices such as phones or laptops.

The remote is an update on an existing "Eco Remote" model that uses solar power to top up the battery. Although solar is naturally very limited inside a home, a rechargeable battery in a remote only needs very slow, low-power topping up as it uses little energy to operate.

Samsung says it then explored a range of wireless charging technologies to add to the solar in a second generation model, the idea being to combine the two methods rather than have to be solely dependent on one. (Source:

Among the technologies it rejected were using a microphone to pick up vibrations and convert it into energy, and harnessing the kinetic energy from the remote being picked up and put down. While these may sound like science fiction, the latter technique is used to charge some watches. The difference is that people move their wrists much more than just picking up the remote.

Cellphone Signals Also Help

Instead Samsung settled on RF harvesting which captures radio waves from both WiFi networks and cellular phone signals. It's a complex technology to understand, but it's not a completely ludicrous analogy to think of the way tidal energy works, converting water wave movement into electricity generation.

The good news is that the harvesting can work pretty much constantly without any disruption compared to magnet-based wireless chargers for phones which have to be close to a charging point, or solar which usually needs a dedicated light source inside a home.

The bad news is that it generates only a tiny amount of power, with one study pegging the theoretical maximum at seven-millionths of a watt. That compares to a standard five watts used to charge phones and tablets.

Unlikely To Transform Phone Charging

In other words, even if the technology was built-in to a phone that was in the house all day, it would almost certainly not capture enough power to make a measurable difference to battery levels.

For now at least the main benefit will be a reduction in hard-to-recycle waste, with Samsung estimating that the remotes for television sets sold worldwide each year use around three billion disposable batteries during their lifespan. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Would you be interested in an eco remote? Is it worth further exploring such technologies for more powerful devices? How big a practical issue is charging your computers and other tech devices?

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.3 (4 votes)


olds97_lss's picture

Don't know why they don't just come up with a cheap remote that can be recharged either via a cradle or usb.

It's been at least 15 years since we owned a remote for the entertainment system that wasn't rechargeable. Although, now that logitech is getting out of the remote business... that may change. For now, our Harmony One remotes still work just fine. We have one on each end of the couch and one on each side of the bed. Pretty sure I also have one or two spares.

They use a lithium power pack, similar to a go pro and a cradle for the remote to rest in and recharge.

Our first logitech remotes required you to plug them in to charge, harmony 665 I think. Then we got the 880's which used a very fussy cradle and now the One's that also use a cradle, but are far less fussy than the 880's.

Chief's picture

I remember the old Zenith Space Command.
Never needed batteries.
Acted basically like a tuning fork.
Clever. Simple. Fool proof.
Channel up
Channel down
Power on/off