Print 15 comment(s) - last by NicePants42.. on Nov 8 at 12:04 PM

The Flexible Integrated Energy Device (FIED) in development in Australia  (Source: CSIRO)
But will it be used for good or for evil?

Like something from Terminator or Robocop, the power jacket towers, pulsing with electricity ... to power your consumer electronics.

Okay, so maybe the new power jacket being developed by CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia's national science agency, isn't a high-tech super-weapon, but you still would feel decidedly futuristic wearing one.

The power jacket, which could also serve other less extraordinary purposes -- such as providing warmth -- is fueled by a device in development at the CSIRO, funded by a $4.1 million grant.  The device driving the jacket is dubbed "Flexible Integrated Energy Device" (FIED), designed to be easily inserted in coats or jackets.

The device is composed of three distinct layers of components.  The first rests in the form of two piezoelectric shoulder pads, which generate electricity based on user movement.  The second portion consists of patches of conductive fabric, resting over the user's chest and abdomen, which store the charge generated by the shoulder pads.  The last portion of the device is the rectifier and power control circuity, which converts the generated electricity into a usable form.

Lead researcher on the project, Dr. Adam Best described the device's impressive design in a recent press release by CSIRO. “It will look like an ordinary garment but have extraordinary capabilities.", he says. "As the person wearing the garment moves,the vibrations they create can be harvested and channeled in to recharging the battery or powering plug-in electronic device or devices. CSIRO has combined its significant capabilities in the areas of energy harvesting, energy storage and advanced fibre development to create the integrated battery technology.”

The power jacket seems like an intriguing example of a technology that would find itself equally at home in the consumer market -- for example, powering MP3 players for winter sports participants -- and in the defense field, powering soldier's electronics. 

The military use was a major consideration in designing the device.  Today's soldiers carry a large amount of batteries to power their electronics, and these batteries weigh them down and decrease mobility.  By wearing a power jacket, they could ditch the batteries.

Dr. Best was thrilled at the possibility of aiding Australia's armed forces, saying, “It’s a real motivator to know this technology could one day be used by the men and women who serve in Australia’s Defence Force to protect our country.”

Several key challenges will need to be overcome in order for the jacket to be fully wearable and usable.  The jacket's electronics will need to be water resistant as they might be soaked by rain or tossed in the washing machine.  The electronics must also be light-weight.

The idea of wearable electronics is not a new one.  Previously, DailyTech covered Phillips demonstration of LED fabric technologyDailyTech, also recently reported on the debacle involving an MIT student wearing a LED-laden tech-art vest being arrested at gunpoint at the airport, under bomb suspicions. 

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By NEOCortex on 11/7/2007 11:40:37 AM , Rating: 3
How much power are we talking about here?

Definitely seems like a cool idea especially if they could seamlessly integrate it with regular clothing.

RE: So.....
By AlphaVirus on 11/7/07, Rating: 0
RE: So.....
By Orbs on 11/7/2007 6:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
Would you really want to wear a heavy jacket while crossing the desert? Probably not. It typically gets cold at night when you're still and want to be under warmth, but during the day, it's over 100 degrees with no shade or water!

RE: So.....
By Scrogneugneu on 11/7/2007 11:33:29 PM , Rating: 3
Here's the plan :

Walk during the night, sleep during the day.

RE: So.....
By Calin on 11/8/2007 3:15:30 AM , Rating: 2
Would you prefer to carry a heavy jacket or batteries for three days for all your electronic thingies?

Future Soldier
By bhieb on 11/7/2007 1:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
Damn my rail gun is out of power, hold on while I do some jumping jacks.

Seriously how much power could be genereated here. I know the it is not meant to power the device in real time, hence the batteries, but how long of a recharge time are we talking about. Wouldn't a simple hand cranked generator be more effective anyway?

RE: Future Soldier
By NicePants42 on 11/7/2007 3:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't a simple hand cranked generator be more effective anyway?

2 hand crank generators + women's jacket = 2008 TIME invention of the year

RE: Future Soldier
By NicePants42 on 11/8/2007 12:04:57 PM , Rating: 2
Or from a more practical angle, if it's motion that we're trying to capture here, I bet that an energy capturing bra would be quite a powerhouse when strapped to the right equipment.

Hell, with the kind of kinetic energy a female torso can generate, I wouldn't be surprised if these jackets are covered with rounded, protruding, gel-filled compartments, each one vibrant with energy.

The total package?
By jtemplin on 11/7/2007 7:43:58 PM , Rating: 2
I recall reading about this particular technology in Popular Science/Mechanics some time ago. It was an article on the constellation of new technologies for the footsoldier, including the XM8; a program entitled Land Warrior. Similar to the "jacket" being used as a way to recapture kinetic energy for footsoldiers, this Land Warrior program described a kinetic recapturing sole of a shoe. If you consider, your feet are the only thing making contact with the earth's surface, then this is perhaps the ideal place to recapture energy. Combined with the jacket and other technologies, the soldier could maintain a constant generation of enough power to sustain tomorrow's digital warrior.

Its great when you see the visions of the future you read about in your youth becoming reality. : )

RE: The total package?
By jtemplin on 11/7/2007 7:49:51 PM , Rating: 2
If this stuff interests you then check out the,

Regenerative backpack:

and the piezoelectric shoe sole patent:

The possiblilites....
By v1001 on 11/7/2007 6:57:20 PM , Rating: 3
A night of looking at porn and I could power the neighborhood for a day.

By fleshconsumed on 11/7/2007 11:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
They have been on my "to buy" list for too long. However, I think pic caption from second "Back to the Future" movie with Marty FcFly dangling over a pool of water would have been more appropriate.

Possible Danger
By sidhu663 on 11/7/2007 4:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
what if it rains? i dont wanna die of electrocution

By sidhu663 on 11/7/2007 4:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
NVM i just realized they addressed that.

By Rotkiv on 11/8/2007 4:42:12 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder whether they would allow you to board a plane with one of these on? I am sure it would set off a metal detector.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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