[AI] The future of mobiles: charged by a heartbeat

Shadab Husain shadabhsn at yahoo.co.in
Thu Jul 26 01:12:28 EDT 2007

Scientists have developed a generator that can produce
electricity from vibrations, Richard Gray reports

Mobile phones could in future be powered by their
owner's beating heart after scientists developed a
generator that can produce electricity from vibrations
in the surrounding environment.

Initially developed for use in industrial machinery,
the -scientists are now tweaking the design so it can
be used to power pacemakers off a beating heart.
It would allow patients to avoid surgery to replace
batteries in their pacemaker.

However, researchers also hope that they will
eventually be able to use the highly-efficient
generators to power other portable wireless devices,
mobiles and MP3 players. It would mean that mobile
users could charge their phone by simply keeping it in
their breast pocket near their heart.

Steve Beeby, a reader in electronics at Southampton
University where the generator has been developed,
said: "There is a big drive towards using wireless
devices, but one of the challenges in supplying power
to these devices is that batteries have a finite
supply that needs to be replaced. We have a spin-out
company that is now looking at powering pacemakers
from the movement of the heart.

"As the power consumption of electronic devices
continues to fall, the opportunity to use these
devices to power them becomes more apparent. The
is there for devices like mobile phones and MP3
players being at least augmented by vibration
generators. There is quite a lot of energy available
on a
human such as the impact of a heel on the floor which
could also be used."

The miniature generator works on the same principles
as a kinetic powered watch, which uses the movement of
a coil between magnets to produce an electrical

The researchers at Southampton and their company
Perpetuum have found that they can tune the device to
a particular frequency of movement so it will produce
far more power than the devices found in watches.

Mr Beeby added: "The -problem with humans is that they
really don't move around that much at the kind of
frequency needed to generate a sufficient amount
of electricity. But we can tune our generator so that
it can make the most of that resonance."

The researchers are also hoping to use their
technology to scavenge energy from the vibrations of
bridges and roads. Paul Lee, the director of
media and telecommunications at business consultants
Deloitte Research, said: "There are two strands of
development in the mobile phone industry which
are to either cram as many power hungry applications
into a phone as possible or to make a phone as
efficient as -possible.

"It is in the latter category that power scavenging
can really help, and while it may not completely
replace -batteries, it can be used to help supplement
power. In the developing world this kind of device
will be particularly attractive. Using body -movement
is one way of doing it, but there are other devices
that aim to use body heat."

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