It seems fair to say that 2020 has been a pretty strange year. So strange that when we heard that researchers have created a mobile phone case that can crawl towards its charger, our first reaction was: okay, sure. Then we saw the video. This thing is so horrifying, it feels like a metaphor for 2020 itself.
Robotics researchers from the Biorobotics Laboratory at Seoul National University (opens in new tab) have adapted one of their existing robot designs to turn it into a phone case with tiny legs that can move your phone across the table towards a wireless charger (for a less nightmarish charging solution, check out the best power banks). Take a look at the monstrosity below.
While disturbing, the tech is also pretty impressive. The case houses 6 tiny legs, each with its own "knee joint". According to IEEE Robotics (opens in new tab), CaseCrawler weighs about 23g and can crawl at 21cm per second while carrying over 300g (more than 13 times its own body weight). At 24mm thick, it's chunkier than your average phone case, but then again, your average phone case doesn't have knees.
It seems CaseCrawler doesn't any kind of intelligence (thank goodness) – it will simply move in a straight line towards the charger. It can, however climb over small obstacles, so it's still more dangerous than your average dalek.
Thankfully, with the device only in concept stage, it's currently confined to the lab – and our nightmares. We're all for innovation (check out these Apple patents we wish would come true), just as long as it doesn't make our skin crawl. If you're looking for a phone that doesn't need to crawl to a charger every few minutes, we were seriously impressed with the battery life in our iPhone 11 Pro review. Check out the best deals below.