Your story inspired a new energy-harvesting design, Nancy! I think both ideas--your heartbeat and the impact of your feet--could work, though. And in fact, they are working, as one company called SolePower has made energy-harvesting insoles, and another called Pavagen has made tiles that harvest energy when you step on them. There are also pacemakers that are harvesting energy from the human heartbeat for power. So your instincts are dead on. :)
Given the developments in energy harvesting solutions, I take it that reliability is not an issue. I would also guess from these developments that using the energy that drives the other devices on the car is not an option here.
Thanks, Chuck. I'm sure I will have more energy harvesting stories in the future! But you're right, sensors on vehicles are a great application of this. It's kind of a no brainer, and I expect we'll see more of this type of thing in the future.
That's a good idea, Nadine. There is actually a lot of research right now to have devices power themselves through vibration or other methods. I've done some stories about harvesters on airplanes that use thermal energy to power sensors...and also energy harvesters on shock absorbers on cars that use vibration. I think there are a lot of applications for this. Maybe our readers can think of others.
Yes, I thought it was clever, too, Rob. I think this is the way forward and a lot of researchers are thinking this way--to use vibrations and other movements or even sounds or heat from vehicle parts to power sensors on the vehicle itself. There is also work to do something similar with thermal energy on airplanes.
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
Conventional wisdom holds that MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford are three of the country’s best undergraduate engineering schools. Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom visits the topic of best engineering schools, it too often leaves out some of the most distinguished programs that don’t happen to offer PhD-level degrees.
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