Researchers at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute’s Biomimetics lab have built electric generators that can harness the energy of movements such as running and walking, which they hope will soon be able to power personal devices.
A normal shoe dissipates energy as heat when it hits the ground. This technology uses thin stretchable generators to turn mechanical energy into electrical energy.
The idea, originally from US research institute SRI International, has been developed by the Kiwis into smaller, lightweight generators to allow for more comfortable, practical energy generation, Stuff.co.nz reported.
They hope to be able to convert the technology to real, practical uses within the year, using the energy of movement to charge things like smartphones, iPods, and heart rate monitors for athletes.
Two former students of the Biomimetics lab have already moved into a world where the technology is useable and marketable.
Ben O’Brien and Todd Gisby, have used the same mechanical structure to build artificial muscle sensors that measure and record human body motion, and started a company called StretchSense.
The company sensors are soft, lightweight and stretchy so they don’t interfere with natural movement.