Walking long distances can take a lot of energy. Imagine being able to apply that energy to your personal electronics.
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are in the works process of developing a shoe-based power harnessing device that would capture the kinetic energy generated from walking and running. With funding from the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research fund, researchers Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor hope to make the emerging technology a reality.
"Humans, generally speaking, are very powerful energy-producing machines," Krupenkin explained in a Nature Communications report. "While sprinting, a person can produce as much as a kilowatt of power."
The scientists described the process as "reverse electrowetting." The only fuel necessary is movement (and the food and water keeping the person moving), and the technology may be practically applied in two different ways.
Energy could be directly transmitted into the devices from a specially designed shoe, and would power smartphones, laptops, mobile phone accessories and other electronics. Another possible direction the developers may take is turning the harnessed energy into a Wi-Fi hot spot, which mobile devices could then tap into, greatly reducing battery dependence for many phone functions such as internet use, web-based apps and GPS functions.
Perhaps the development of human-based power will also be a healthy development – a quick run may eventually be the cheapest way to power personal electronics.