Harnessing energy from body movement has gained quite a bit of attention over the past years. Various technologies have been proposed that can turn the energy we constantly generate into a mean to charge electronic devices, however nothing is like the invention that a Canadian team developed. They made a strap that turns energy from chewing into a source of power for wearable gadgets.
We have all heard of the numerous attempts that teams from all over the world have made to generate power from body movement. There were shoes with special attachments to harvest energy from walking, there were energy floors that produce power as people dance on them, now it is time for people to explore what can be powered by the kinetic energy we generate as we chew.
A group of mechanical engineers from Ecole de Technologie Superieure in Montreal decided to take on the task. They developed a chin strap made of a special smart material. Although it is still a prototype, and it still requires further improvements before it could actually generate usable amount of energy, the technology holds great potential. The makers believe that it could one day become the revolutionary gadget that powers ear-muffs and implants, replacing disposable batteries.
In fact, the main aim of the makers was to invent a gadget that can make life easy for people with disabilities. The guys tested different power sources, including the heat inside the canal of the ear, and the head movements, but they established that the movement of the jaw can produce the most energy. They used a special commercially available piezoelectric material to make the strap, and connected it to earmuffs.
To measure the amount of generated energy, one of the inventors, Dr. Delnavaz, himself tested the prototype. After chewing a gum for one minute, he was able to produce 18 microwatts of power. Further tests showed that wearing the strap was comfortable and did not affect chewing or talking abilities. They claim that the feeling is no different than wearing a helmet while biking.
The guys hope that the use of their technology will become much wider in the future. Various companies have already expressed interest in the invention for commercial development, although as it is right now, the gadget is still a “proof-of-concept”
Details can be found in the journal Smart Materials and Structures.
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