While specific body parts produce minuscule amounts of electricity, such as the cochlea, which can potentially be harvested, the amount is insufficient for powering a smartwatch or a smartphone; researchers, however, have been focusing on recycling human movement or the heat generated by the body, producing enough power to charge "a lithium-ion battery in a matter of hours."
In the past few years, researchers have started to exploit a unique property of some materials, known as piezoelectricity, to generate electricity from human movement. Piezoelectric materials spontaneously generate electric charge when exposed to stress (the Greek word piezo means to squeeze or press). These materials are already used in countless industrial applications, and even the humble cigarette lighter (that “click” you hear in the electronic kind is the sound of a piezoelectric crystal being struck). But their next use could be in energy-generating fabrics.
One of the most advanced of these was developed in 2013 by a Chinese-US research team that invented an elastomer-based piezoelectric fabric able to generate electricity using only the kinetic energy of human locomotion. When a piece of this fabric was worn as a shoe insole by a volunteer, walking generated enough electricity to illuminate 30 LEDs. What’s more, when the same fabric was applied onto a shirt that was then artificially moved, it charged a lithium-ion battery in a matter of hours.
|"Hobbit" Discovered: Tiny Human Ancestor Found in Asia|
|Researchers Create Embryonic-Like Stem Cells Out of Regular Skin or Blood Cells|
|Climate Scientists, Who Are Generally Reluctant to Point Fingers, Link U.S. Drought to Climate Change|
|Brian Greene: "Our universe is not the only universe."|
|“This conversation about how technology is hijacking people is really catching on.”|
|Japanese Create Ice Cream That Does Not Melt|
|Making a Movie Inside a Video Game|
|“Banning polluting cars in 2040 or 2050 doesn’t actually look like a very bold move.”|
|“Human and animal cells can be 3D printed into high-resolution tissue.”|
|“Our Internet handlers, not government, are using operant conditioning to modify our behaviour today.”|
|Google Map Shows You the Most Photographed Areas of the World|
|“During this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary 'fascism'.”|
|“That science fiction future where robots can do what people and animals do may be closer than you think.”|
|“Nobody is forcing the participants to stay, of course, but if they leave, they won’t be paid.”|
|“We’re going to start to see chip implants get the same realm of acceptance as piercings and tattoos.”|
|“The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long.”|