Used cell phone owners might soon be able to power their favorite devices merely by taking a walk around the block. That is the hope of a group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, who have created a technology that can harness some of the energy generated by people when they go for a walk and actually pass it on to a used cell phone or some other similar electronic device.
“Humans, generally speaking, are very powerful energy producing machines,” says a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tom Krupenkin. “While sprinting, a person can produce as much as a kilowatt of power.” Only a small fraction of that amount of power would need to be harvested in order to be able to power a used cell phone or other electronics such as flashlights, or even a laptop computer, according to Krupenkin.
The system requires what has been termed as an “energy harvester” device to be placed in the shoe of a person, which would then be able to capture the mechanical energy that usually burns away as heat. It can then convert it to as much as 20 watts of electrical power that can be used to power a personal device such as a used cell phone in a process that researchers refer to as “reverse electro-wetting”.
The researchers say that if they can make the technology widely available, it would have a huge positive impact on the environment by reducing the need for batteries.