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Researchers at IMEC have developed devices like this wristwatch that harvest human thermal energy and convert it into power for electronics.  (Source: IMEC via Physics Buzz)

The IMEC Heat Scavenger ECG Shirt, powered by human heat energy  (Source: IMEC via Physics Buzz)

The researchers also made this styling headband, which harvests even more electricity.  (Source: IMEC via Physics Buzz)
Hopefully the machines don't get their hands on this one

Vladimir Leonov and Ruud Vullers of the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center in Belgium have built up on past work and devised an ambitious "energy harvester" -- a device that essentially turns humans into big walking batteries.  The research could lead to iPods and cell phones that never lose charge.

The researcher's new body heat-driven power supplies strap on to your forehead as a stylish head band.  From there, they start harvesting your delicious thermal energy and turning it into electricity for the machines.  Who knew homeostasis and electronics could wed so beautifully?

One system's waste is another's treasure --  when the body gives off heat during homeostasis, the process used to maintain a constant body temperature, a gradient is created with the surrounding air (hot by the body and increasingly cold as you travel away from the skin).  Special electronics known as thermopiles can tap into this gradient and convert the energy to electricity.

The researchers demonstrated an electrocardiogram (ECG) dress shirt that looked pretty stylish and kept a monitor on your vitals to boot -- all without ever needing a battery.  For those who aren't digging the headband, the researchers showed off a little bling -- a gold watch that serves as both a heat harvester and a stylish timepiece.

The downside is that human body heat energy generation isn't very efficient -- so either your army of robots needs to be very ultra-low voltage, or you need a lot of humans to power it.  The researchers are working on developing ultra-low voltage (ULV) devices to exploit the bit of energy they manage to squeeze out.  Why not just use a tiny battery in lieu of the pricey thermo-electrics?  Because that would be plain old-fashioned, of course -- or at least that's the researchers' apparent line of thinking.

The new research can be found here, reported in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

The idea of harvesting the kinetic and thermal waste energy produced from the human body is nothing new.  For over a century self-winding watches have harvested wrist motion to never need a battery or old-fashioned hand-winding.  Researchers are currently investigating putting similar energy harvesting devices on the wrist, hips, shoes soles, and potentially in backpacks.  The army is looking to use such piezoelectric generators in its next generation of packs to help power soldiers' ULV electronics.  Scientists have even devised tiny blood-stream generators to harvest the kinetic energy of the bloodstream to power nanoelectronics.

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RE: Sigh...
By Motoman on 12/24/2009 12:35:29 PM , Rating: 5 you *honestly* need every sarcastic comment ever written to be tagged with "[/sarcasm]?"

Have you ever read a book? As opposed to a blog or website? And if so, are you completely incapable of identifying sarcasm in a book as well?

RE: Sigh...
By amanojaku on 12/24/2009 12:57:16 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, because I didn't detect any sarcasm in his statements.
dress shirt that looked pretty stylish and kept a monitor on your vitals to boot
Where's the sarcasm in that? Two statements in one sentence, one true and the other implied to be true because of the use of "to boot", meaning "in addition to".
For those who aren't digging the headband, the researchers showed off a little bling -- a gold watch that serves as both a heat harvester and a stylish timepiece.
He just said the headband is ugly, but implies the watch is not.

And I happen to be a fan of both books and sarcasm. If you're comparing the writing on DT to that of a well written book I have to wonder what books YOU read.

RE: Sigh...
By Motoman on 12/24/2009 2:03:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, because I didn't detect any sarcasm in his statements.

The failure is yours, not the author's. Period.

RE: Sigh...
By cruisin3style on 12/24/2009 2:32:59 PM , Rating: 1
He was not comparing this fine website's articles (notice I didn't say "this website's finely written articles.. /sarcasm") to a well written book.

Still, let's give the guy a break. Everyone misses things now and then, I know I do when I'm tired. Like the other day I was dealing with this asshat on ebay and he messaged me AFTER he had won the auction wanting to meet up in person instead of me shipping the item. After prolonged discussions in which he threw a fit when things didn't go his way, I offered to charge him at-cost shipping instead of the set $20.00 fee but I eventually agreed to meet up, and he was trying to bring a check so I said fuckall to that. This was a very frustrating person to deal with, accusing me of wanting to keep my anonymity (It's the fucking INTERNET) and whatever else, and eventually he changed his mind back to me shipping it to him after he knew i wouldnt be taking his check.

In the end after all his wanting to be personal and know my real name and personal email address (which I didn't give and gave an unused one not tied to anything important, respectively), I sent him the most impersonal message possible saying I looked forward to completing the transaction amicably and that the total was the subtotal plus a shipping fee of $20.00. I received payment yet thankfully haven't heard back from him. So I ended up getting the full 20 (and wish I could have seen his douche face when he looked at the shipping fee he could have saved on if he didn't have a broom or at least a paper cut out radar dish up his ass), but I realized later that I needed to get more sleep lately because I would have realized I could have just said I didn't fucking live there anymore.

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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