Technology exists that allows phones and other mobile devices that are touching or nearly touching to share files. Now that concept could rise to a whole new level, allowing nearby devices to also share power, reports TechXplore.

The new technology, developed by researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K., will work via an app called PowerShake, and it will function using many of the same principles at play with wireless power transmission. Basically, coils inside each device will allow for the sending and receiving of energy through a generated, localized electromagnetic field.

Currently, the biggest drawback to the technology is power transfer between devices has proven to be fairly inefficient; around half of the power gets lost in transmission. The prototype transfers about a minute's worth of operating power in just 12 seconds, or if both users concur, one device can give another enough power to run for four minutes with a two-minute charge. It's not ideal but it's also promising, for a prototype.

Obviously, simply plugging in your smartphone or tablet will remain the best and most efficient way to power a device, but in a pinch, the technology could be a lifesaver. For instance, it could be useful when traveling outdoors or backpacking, or perhaps even when there's an emergency and the power goes out.

The next step for researchers is to conduct real-world tests so efficiency might be increased in future models. Marketing groups will need to be assembled to test how often the technology might be used by actual consumers. It's all just one step closer to a fully immersed wireless world.

Bryan Nelson ( @@brynelson ) writes about everything from environmental problems here on Earth to big questions in space.

Smartphones will soon be able to share power by touching other devices
Some devices can already share files by touching, but soon they'll also be able to share power.