Researchers Developing Device to Charge Your Phone via Walking

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You know how at work or school, there always seems to be that person that forgets their phone or laptop charger and asks to borrow yours? Sure, your laptop battery was plugged in all this time and you don’t technically need your charger at that specific moment, but after you loan it to the Chargerless, all you can do is look up at your battery slowly draining, distracting you throughout the day.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some kind of device that could provide a charge that would be nearly impossible for a person to forget to bring with them? According to a journal published in Nature by Tom Krupenkin and Ashley J. Taylor, scientists are developing a device that harnesses the power generated when the wearer walks, which can then turn said power into a charge.

When one walks and one’s heel hits the ground, around 20 watts of power are produced as heat, so researchers developed a system in which droplets of liquid metal are pressed against an electrode. The device contains two fat electrodes wired together with a small space in between the two, and when voltage is applied to the electrodes, the opposing charges freeze them in place, but pushing on them increases the voltage and causes a current to run up to the circuit. This current can be collected and used for power consumption.

If this kind of device were installed into a shoe, around 2 watts of power could be collected, which may seem small, but is 1,000 times more than what had been harvested with previous, similar systems. Krupenkin claims a 2 hour walk could recharge a cell phone battery.

Though the device seems to know what it is doing, there are a few pitfalls to attempting to collect and use energy from your shoes, such as having a cord plug into your shoe and run up to the phone in your pocket, so some kind of wireless collection system would have to be put into place — something that sounds like it is making the device a tad expensive, and not exactly a better option than simply remembering to bring your phone or laptop charger into work.

(Nature via Discover Magazine)

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