Researchers unveil device that harvests energy from human knees

researchers unveil device that harvests energy from human knees knee

Researchers at a trio of UK universities have found a way to generate energy using only normal human kinetics. Every time you take a step, your knee flexes and bends, and while this does offer a pretty useful form of locomotion, the team of researchers felt that this action wasn’t as perfectly efficient as it could be. Too much theoretical energy was being lost in that bending motion. Thus, they created a machine to fix this glaring flaw of biology.

Officially dubbed the “pizzicato knee-joint energy harvester,” the wearable device gathers and stores energy generated by the bending motion every human knee goes through while walking. Gizmag details the gadget’s specifics:

Known as the pizzicato knee-joint energy harvester, the device fits onto the outside of the knee. It is circular, and consists of a central hub equipped with four protruding arms, surrounded by an outer ring bearing 72 plectra (a plectrum is a plucking tool, such as a guitar pick). The ring rotates about a quarter of a turn with every bend of the knee, causing the plectra to pluck the arms. This causes the arms to vibrate (not unlike a guitar string), and it’s those vibrations that are used to generate electrical energy.

As for the “why” behind this invention, as we mentioned above, the researchers hoped to capture the lost potential energy of the human gait and instead convert this otherwise wasted effort into useful electric energy for devices like heart-rate monitors and pedometers. That said, there’s no reason why this thing couldn’t provide electricity to any gadget you might own. Though the research teams hope the pizzicato will be useful in providing enhanced mobility to people who rely on electronics to survive, it seems quite likely that there might be even more valuable consumer applications for a device that allows a person to recharge their iPhone by taking a walk down the block. Doubly so given that Dr. Michele Pozzi, a lead author on the project, estimates that the final production model of the machine will only cost about $15.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Halfbikes, VR for all your senses, and more

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's fun to gawk!
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

Finish him! These are the best Mortal Kombat Fatalities of all time

The Mortal Kombat series has a long and proud tradition of being violent, and that is best exemplified by the games' Fatalities. These violent finishing moves see characters obliterated.
Emerging Tech

Pepsi, StartRocket team up to launch satellites for energy drink ad in night sky

Pepsi is working with StartRocket to launch an energy drink advertisement into the night sky using miniature satellites. The Russian startup is looking to send its system into orbit in 2021.
Emerging Tech

Public vote opens for new planet name, but Planet McPlanetface won’t fly

The largest unnamed world in our solar system needs an official title, and you can help choose it. The scientists who discovered the icy planetoid recently announced details of a public vote offering three choices.
Emerging Tech

How MIT hacked horticulture to cultivate a hyper-flavorful basil plant

At MIT, Caleb Harper used his personal food computers to alter the climate in which he grew basil. Exposing it light for 24 hours a day changed the flavor profile of the plant, making it spicier and stronger.
Emerging Tech

Watch the fearsome DroneHunter X3 pluck rogue UAVs out of the sky

How do you stop enemy drones in their tracks? DroneHunter X3 is a new autonomous anti-drone technology which outruns and then captures rogue drones in midair. Check it out in action.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX’s main Falcon Heavy booster is lost at sea after falling off drone ship

SpaceX has lost the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket after a successful mission last week that ended with it landing on a drone ship. SpaceX said rough seas resulted in the rocket toppling over and falling into the ocean.
Emerging Tech

Sweden is building a road that recharges electric buses that drive over it

The Swedish transport administration is exploring special roads which will charge vehicles’ batteries as they drive over them. It will test the idea with a short sample stretch of road.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

Watch a pack of SpotMini robot dogs perform a terrifying feat of strength

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robotic dog is now going around in packs, and the results are somewhat concerning. Check out the video to see what kind of shenanigans 10 of them got up to recently ...