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Energy from the Human Knee

Photo Credit: China Daily

Soon enough, we may be able to power our devices by walking.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong are looking at having an energy harvester attached to the wearer’s knee that can generate 1.6 microwatts of power while walking at a normal pace. The energy would be enough to power small electronics such as health monitors and GPS devices. This will be of particular interest for hikers or mountain climbers.

A special smart microfiber material is used to generate energy from any kind of bending that it experiences. It utilizes a slider-crank mechanism similar to what drives a motor. The knee was chosen because it has a larger range of motion than any other part of the human body.

Walkers will be able to capture biomechanical energy through the natural motion of the knee. The prototype that they currently have weighs less than a pound and was tested on people walking 1 to 4 miles per hour. They also determined that a walker’s breathing patterns didn’t change anything; it is not asking us to push ourselves further than our own comfort level.

We all know how annoying it is to have to constantly make sure our devices are charged before heading out on any kind of an adventure. This will help to alleviate that problem and make sure that in tough conditions, we can always have our needed devices charged and ready to go.