"Mini-muscles" could fuel smartphones
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 7 Apr 2011 at 15:04
Scientists in New Zealand hope to overcome the perpetual shortage of battery life in smartphones with a system that harnesses power from human movement.
This idea of user-generated power for devices has been around for several years, with researchers touting wearable micro generators woven into fabric, but the beauty of the New Zealanders' approach is its simplicity.
They have developed a variable capacitor generator that harvests energy from the action of flexing and unflexing a rubber-like substance.
"Imagine soft generators that produce energy by flexing and stretching as they ride ocean waves or sway in the breeze like a tree," said Thomas McKay of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute's Biomimetics Lab."We've developed a low-cost power generator with an unprecedented combination of softness, flexibility, and low mass.”
The muscle-like materials used in these “dielectric elastomers” are capable of producing energy when deformed, but had previously relied on bulky external electronics to process the electricity.
"Our team eliminated the need for this external circuitry by integrating flexible electronics directly onto the artificial muscles themselves,” said McKay.
“One of the most exciting features of the generator is that it's so simple; it simply consists of rubber membranes and carbon grease mounted in a frame."
According to the scientists, their prototype device could be incorporated into clothing and harvest electricity from human movement, with the power fed into a mobile phone battery for storage.
Is your business a social business? For helpful info and tips visit our hub.
- Move over Delia: IBM Watson is cooking tonight
- Eric Schmidt on the double-edged smartphone: friend and foe
- Getty joins the race to the bottom
- Hour of Code: five steps to learn how to code
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: first look
- Sony Xperia Z2 review: first look
- Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 review: first look
- Nokia XL review: first look
- Samsung Galaxy S5 review: first look
- Nokia X review: first look
- Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs
- Invoices and VAT: how to set up your documents correctly
- Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Active: the best phone for avoiding screen burn
- How much is a social user worth?
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Thunderbolt Bridge: a fast Mac migration tool
- Should you advertise on Twitter?
- How to track a lost smartphone
- Self-publishing success: the best way to sell your book
- 1.6TB SSD: why would you need one?