The rise of pocket-sized power banks and portable solar panels changed how people travel and use mobile devices. But these technologies offer limited energy and also require being recharged.
What if you can get one device that provides unlimited power? Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong developed a new technology that might do that.
The “energy harvester,” described in the journal Applied Physics Letters, is a wearable tech attached to the knee that collects energy as you walk and converts it for electronic use. Its current version can generate 1.6 microwatts of power.
The researchers said the technology requires average or normal speed of walking and can power small electronics, such as health monitoring and GPS devices.
“These harvesters can harvest energy directly from large deformations,” Wei-Hsin Liao, study author and a professor in the department of mechanical and automation engineering, said in a statement. “Self-powered GPS devices will attract the attention of climbers and mountaineers.”
Liao’s team created the energy harvester using a smart macrofiber. The material collects energy from the bending it experiences.
The researchers said the knee serves as the best area to attach the technology as the joint makes large range of motion.
Every time the knee flexes the harvester bends and captures biomechanical energy. Liao said their technology can even create electricity even the user walks slowly.
The researchers tested a prototype of the device that weighs only 0.68 pounds. They found that the technology did not require any extra effort to generate power.
During tests, users walked at speeds from 2 to 6.5 kilometers per hour. The researchers then monitored the participants’ breathing patterns.
With or without the device, the users maintained the same level of energy. The team said the technology collects power at no cost to the human.
“Self-powered equipment can enable users to get rid of the inconvenient daily charge,” Liao said. “This energy harvester would promote the development of self-powered wearable devices.”
The researchers plan to further develop the wearable energy harvester and to prepare it for commercialization in the future.
Researchers from Hong Kong developed a new wearable technology that collects energy as you walk and provides power to mobile devices. Pixabay
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