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Apparently, engineers at Princeton are developing a new flexible sensor that stores the mechanical energy from normal human activities such as walking and dancing. It's a tiny thing that can be placed on the bottom of one's shoe in such a way as to be bent and rounded with every step, so that just walking or running can produce the energy to keep a small utility's battery charged all day long. The article says that it converts 80% of the mechanical energy we produce by walking into electrical energy, which is pretty impressive efficiency. The most we get out of burning fuels in cars is 40% usually.

No wonder everyone with a new energy invention is trying to switch from chemical change to mechanical energy.

This raises many questions for me, though. My first query concerning this was "How much energy would something like that be able to store? No very much, surely...." Well, the article doesn't really answer that question, but the smallest medical battery in the world is said to be able to last more than 15 years. This only barely covers the question and brings up many others, such as how much does the device it's powering use a day, and what would happen if it were hooked up to... say, a computer?

The other inquiry that struck me is how durable this thing would be. Certainly, you COULD stick it on the bottom of your shoe, but would that be at all good for it? How long would it last before you would need to get a new one? I think that if this ever comes out on the market, I would be skeptical at first, because I wouldn't know if the little thing would be all that durable.

On the less critical side of this tiny invention, it would certainly give people INCENTIVE to walk around and use their bodies, instead of using their cars. I would like to see something like that in use sometime in the near future because that would have people leaving their cars at home for sure!

If anyone else finds more about this device, or knows anything else, I would be happy to discuss with you below.

Views: 16

Comment by Shakwei Mbindyo on March 19, 2010 at 8:06pm
+1KS. This is pretty neat. What happens to all couch potatos out there :)
Comment by Philip Wood on March 19, 2010 at 8:18pm
Any developments in cell phone charger efficiency are welcome news. Chargers still draw 1/2 to 2/3 of their needed power when they're not even attached to a phone. Cell phone chargers account for about 6% of our electricity bills nationwide! (based on year old figures)

I don't think durability will be an issue. So long as the chip is cheap to produce it only has to last as long as the shoes do. Consider those kids shoes that light up with each step, same principal. You don't stick it on the bottom of the shoe, you build it into the sole. That way it is protected from sharp impacts and spiky things while still receiving the mechanical pressure it needs to operate.

What really caught my eye about it was that it is suitable for medical implant. I wonder if we could implant one of these in the foot, powering our various devices by induction as we move around. Thanks for sharing!
Comment by Philip Wood on March 19, 2010 at 8:20pm
Comment by Alyssa Laurel Crum on March 19, 2010 at 8:50pm
Thanks for answering that question, Philip, I didn't think of that! And yeah, I thought it was interesting as well that medical implants were possible. That will put a lot of people with pacemakers at ease indeed. As for the rest of us, perhaps the cyborg future is nearer than I thought, heh.
Comment by Alyssa Laurel Crum on March 20, 2010 at 9:29pm
Considering how many people are on this site, I have to say I'm not surprised that someone else wrote about this one, lol!
Comment by Massive Attack on March 22, 2010 at 5:49pm
Story stealer ! Lol, just kidding. Of course some people on here will post about similar topics. This story is very interesting & encouraging.

I'm sure they will soon figure out how to power a cell phone with energy through a jacket by walking for example. If we could combine that with, hypothetically, energy sidewalks, the energy produced wlcoukd go up for each person walking on it. Hey, dreams become reality, don't they?
Comment by Alyssa Laurel Crum on March 22, 2010 at 8:41pm
Zack - You bet. The energy sidewalk idea is awesome! It can't be any worse than sidewalks now. *rubs feet*


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