Friday, February 08, 2008

Mobile Power Supply Solution With Legs

Everyone has been through a day when their mobile phone’s battery has died, because of the absence of a charger. But, soon, up may just need to take a brisk walk to revive the charge of a dead battery in a cell phone. Researchers have developed a new device that will allow people to generate electricity while walking. Image Credit: Arthur Kuo, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineers, University of Michigan

Mobile Power Supply Solution With Legs

What is the essence of mobility (enterprise mobility) … is it not movement, the ability to move anywhere, anytime and be able to remain connected to the aid and information provided through technology?

What if one were able to recharge the tools that provide power to the devices we carry to remain connected to our information age? Well, here is an invention that never requires a person to ever be near a traditional power source in order to recharge the batteries of the devices we use to keep connected as we move about.

Engineers from three universities in Canada and the US have successfully developed a generator that is able to harvest and convert the energy we produce from walking into electricity. The generator is embedded in a brace that is worn above and below the knee to capture the motion power that walking creates in order to turn the mechanical energy of human muscles into electrical energy.

Out and about and completely tether free with the ability to power PDA’s, Cellphones, and all other enterprise mobility devices.

This excerpted from The Register (UK) -

Thigh-drive phone charger put through its paces
Let your legs help your fingers do the walking

By Lewis Page - The Register - Published Friday 8th February 2008 10:55 GMT

North American boffins have produced a knee brace which can generate several watts of power as the wearer's leg flexes while walking. The inventors believe the device could be useful for powering medical equipment - and even mobile phones.

In a paper for the boffinry journal Science, the researchers reveal their device's test results. The knee generator works on the same principle as the regenerative brakes used in battery-driven cars. It can clutch in and out, so creating resistance only during selected periods of the leg's motion.

If the gizmo engages itself only during the "braking" period, when the knee is bending to absorb the body's weight after a footfall - thus actually helping the leg somewhat with its task - it puts out an average of 5W when fitted to a man walking slowly.
It compares well with the output levels offered by portable batteries. The knee brace could power ten mobile phones, or charge them up. And unlike ordinary hand-cranked or pedal generators, it doesn't require any attention from the operator - though he or she does have to keep walking.

According to biomedics and engineering prof Arthur Kuo of the University of Michigan, one of the inventors, the leg generator doesn't require a significant level of effort from the user - though it's still too cumbersome.
"The prototype device is bulky and heavy, and it does affect the wearer just to carry. But the energy generation part itself has very little effect on the wearer, whether it is turned on or not. We hope to improve the device so that it is easier to carry, and to retain the energy-harvesting capabilities."

Kuo sees systems of this sort being used by soldiers, to charge the increasing load of electronics they carry. The idea could also power implanted medical gear like pacemakers or neurotransmitters.

One likely consumer app might be for hikers or other outdoorsy types wishing to keep their gadgets charged up. (Trade names: Walkman, ThighPod, You'll-never-walk-alone-Phone. Etc.) But it's hard to imagine regenerative knee braces being a big hit among those with frequent access to grid power.
Reference Here>>

Obviously, this Brit has never been forced to endure being without power (and the information it can provide) in a mission critical situation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this idea and would like to buy this device to power my macbook pro or cell phone when exactly would this device be made available to public for purchase I ask this because i pace around alot and walk across campass to get my classes so i would love to get my hands on one those email me at if you know where or when i could get my hands on one at a affordable price such as 40 or 30 bucks, 50 at most