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Body Heat Power  (Source: Image via Fraunhofer)
Future electronic devices could be powered by body heat alone

For mobile professionals, poor battery life from a device is the ultimate enemy to staying connected on the go. Everyone wants longer battery life from phones, laptops and cameras.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen have teamed up with scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM to devise a way to power electronic circuits by using body heat.

The researchers were able to construct a method of turning body heat into electricity using the same principal as thermoelectric generators (TEG) made from semi-conductor elements. TEGs extract electricity from the temperature difference between a hot and cold environment.

Researchers from Fraunhofer say that typically a temperature difference of several tens of degrees is needed, but that the temperature difference between the body and the environment is only a few degrees.

That means that with such a small temperature difference, the amount of electricity generated is very low voltage. The TEG can deliver 200 millivolts when most electronics require one or two volts to operate.

“We combined a number of components in a completely new way to create circuits that can operate on 200 millivolts,” says Peter Spies, manager of this sub-project at the IIS. “This has enabled us to build entire electronic systems that do not require an internal battery, but draw their energy from body heat alone.”

With all the current recalls on batteries from Nokia and the huge recall last year of Sony made notebook batteries, alternative methods of powering electronic devices are a huge area of research. Whether this body heat power technology works or not, it is only a matter of time before consumers can stop depending on batteries and move to fuel cells and other methods of getting power for electronic devices.

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RE: The Matrix has you
By excrucio on 8/21/2007 5:24:29 PM , Rating: 1
There will never be an AI smart enough to revolutionize its capacity to learn of humans, unless a human person programs that, which is nearly impossible.

It's all fiction AI's will never have the capacity to be more powerful than us.

RE: The Matrix has you
By A5un on 8/21/2007 6:00:14 PM , Rating: 2
"Everything that can be invented has been invented." – Charles H. Duell, Comissioner of the US Patent Office, 1899.

Well, look at where we are now.

RE: The Matrix has you
By Scrogneugneu on 8/21/2007 7:25:26 PM , Rating: 2
There will never be any human beings flying, unless a human person grows wings, which is nearly impossible.

It's all dream and we will never fly like the birds do.

RE: The Matrix has you
By Ringold on 8/21/2007 7:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
"Never" is a very, very long time.

Given what we can do to plants, and given that we'll probably create new life from scratch relatively soon, I'd say adding wings and the structural changes to accomodate them are just a genetic tweak and a gaping ethical chasm away.

Not that it'd be easy, or legal anywhere except New Kansas in Rigel, but never's a long time and humans simple creations in the scheme of things. Isn't the rate of innovation in modern history nearly exponential anyway? Could be closer than we imagine.

RE: The Matrix has you
By smitty3268 on 8/21/2007 9:20:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think that you completely missed the point of that post, which was clearly sarcastic. As in, people have been flying in planes for decades.

RE: The Matrix has you
By smitty3268 on 8/21/2007 7:35:38 PM , Rating: 2
There's plenty of research going on about how to make an AI learn things on it's own and draw conclusions from cause/effect. If the hardware ever gets powerful enough I have no doubt computers will blow us away (figuratively, i mean) - the real challenge is in what we think is really simple, like recognizing a spoken word or object in a picture. People are inherently good at things like this because we wouldn't be able to get around in the world if we weren't.

What you're saying is basically that there will never be a computer able to beat humans at chess because a human would have to program it to begin with.

RE: The Matrix has you
By oTAL on 8/22/2007 5:48:17 AM , Rating: 2
By that logic, humans would never be able to construct a computer that could play chess better than the guy who programmed it...
Guess what... it doesn't work like that! There are many strategies for programming and when your programming AIs it's pretty normal that you are surprised by some of the emergent behaviours.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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