Engineers at the University of Washington have demonstrated that it’s possible to charge up your smartphone using laser beams.

Perhaps the deeper question is, why?

If laser charging can be conducted quickly and safely, that would mark a big step toward freeing up mobile devices ranging from phones and tablets to drones and laptops.

The beaming system is described in a paper published online in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies. It can deliver a steady 2 watts of power to a 15-square-inch area from a distance of 14 feet, or from up to 40 feet away with further modifications.

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