Researchers aim to power smartphones through walking

device via instepnanopower.comA new energy harvesting method developed by researchers Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison promises a practical way to power smartphones and other portable electronics simply by walking down the street.

Though energy-harvesting technology isn’t new as the two engineering researchers point out in a recent Nature Communications article, their new energy-harvesting technology aims to provide for a market not being represented by current energy harvesting methods.

“What has been lacking is a mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion technology that would work well for this type of application [mobile electronic devices],” said Krupenkin.

The new method Krupenkin and Taylor have created is a process called reverse electrowetting which converts energy from moving liquid. Their device is made up of thousands of microscopic liquid droplets—they use a liquid metal alloy used in thermometers—which interacts with a nano structured substrate.

The researchers say that humans produce a lot of energy; we can produce as much as a kilowatt of power by sprinting, and only a fraction of that energy is needed to power devices . There have have been previous attempts to harvest power from human locomotion like the 2008 knee brace but they were impractical.

The Wisconsin-Madison Researchers believe that by inserting their device into a pair of shoes, a person could generate up to 20 watts of electrical energy. That energy could then be used to charge devices by plugging in to a small USB port into the shoes. Another method would be to create a tiny Wi-Fi hotspot in the shoe device which would take the load off a phone’s battery. Krupenkin says that this could extend battery life to a month rather than just a day or two.

The device could be very practical in impoverished countries with poor access to electricity, or for military personnel. The product isn’t available yet, but the two are looking to commercialize through their Instep Nanopower company.

 Via MSNBC

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

‘Bionic mushroom’ can generate electricity without using fossil fuels

Researchers have come up with a way to produce electricity without fossil fuels using mushrooms covered with bacteria. The mushroom provides a safe environment for special cyanobacteria that generate electricity when light is shone on them.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Smart Home

This alarm clock uses targeted light and sound to wake you, but not your partner

The Wake v2 isn't like your typical bedside alarm. Instead, it wakes you by shining a soft light directly into your face, thereby not disturbing the person sharing a bed with you. Pretty smart, huh?
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.
Emerging Tech

Frogs regrow ‘paddle-like’ limbs when placed in a bioreactor

Frogs have partially regrown amputated limbs thanks to a bioreactor at Tufts University. By jump-starting tissue repair, the bioreactor helped the amphibians regenerate a bigger, more complete appendages than they usually do.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

China says it has developed a quantum radar that can see stealth aircraft

Chinese defense giant China Electronics Technology Group Corporation claims that it has developed a quantum radar that's able to detect even the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Glass orb packs all the constellations in the night sky into fancy desk ornament

Ever wanted to know more about the star constellations? A stunning new Kickstarter campaign, taking the form of a fancy desk ornament that re-creates the night sky in a glass orb, aims to help.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX makes rocketry look easy, sticks yet another Falcon 9 landing

SpaceX is due to perform its latest Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing on November 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Here's how you can watch the proceedings live.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.