We once relied on bartenders to listen to our woes as they silently polished glassware. Nowadays we air our woes on social media via smartphone, running our batteries down, and the bartender's role is to take our phones and charge them behind the bar, where you'll see them stacked four high.
A team of researchers at the UK's University of Bristol aim to change this. They've developed a technology called PowerShake, whereby two phones—or devices like smartwatches and wristbands—can be pressed together, allowing power to flow from one device to another. In this manner the generous, fully-charged individual could share their juice with those red-battery saps.
There's just one problem: Aren't we becoming, as a society, far too selfish to share our battery life with others? That's exactly the issue the researchers ran into during trials. "Some people," reports The Economist, "said they were reluctant to offer their precious battery charge to others."
The answer to this is as depressing as it is expected:
A form of inducement might help. Vassilis Kostakos, a computer scientist at Oulu University in Finland, says one answer is cash. Anticipating the arrival of technologies like PowerShake, Mr Kostakos and his colleagues set up an auction for device power with 22 volunteers. The results, also due to be released at [computer-human interaction conference] CHI2016, showed people wanted €1.76 ($2.00) to sell 10% of their device's power when their battery was fully charged, but €4.41 to offload 10% when the charge had depleted to 20%. On average, 10% of device power sold for €2.22.
You could call it "surge pricing."
Our question to you is, would you willingly sell battery life to a complete stranger on the street? Or charge one of your mates? And do you think we'll see entrepreneurs roaming the sidewalks wearing hats that advertise their on-the-spot charging rates?