Harnessing the kinetic energy of everyday movement for phone charging technology purposes has been a goal of the scientific community for some time now. Products available on the market such as wearable motion chargers or adapters that fit to bike wheels meet the goal of harvesting movement as usable energy, but they tend to be impractical for everyday use. Now, Michigan State University engineers have created a new way to harvest energy from human motion in a much more discreet way, paving the way for new kinetic charging innovations.
This new movement harvesting device uses a film-like material that’s as thin as a sheet of paper. Comprised of several layers of environmentally friendly substances such as silver and polyimide (a high heat and chemical resistant polymer), it utilizes ions in a way that each layer contains charged particles. The electrical energy (aka the stuff that charges your device) is then generated when the device is compressed by human motion.
The completed device known as FENG has some serious advantages over traditional kinetic energy capturing devices. For one its thin, lightweight, and flexible which lends itself well to many diverse applications. It’s also scalable, low-cost, and biocompatible, meaning it could be the charging answer wearable devices have been waiting for. One unique property of FENG is that it actually becomes more powerful the more times you fold it, making it a real powerhouse for micro adaptations.
In the video below, you’ll see a foldable keyboard operated by touch via FENG- no battery needed.
Like many of the recent cell phone charging technology innovations, FENG is still a ways off from a consumer-ready product. Working out an efficient way of delivering the generated energy to an electronic device is the next crucial step. Still, with this exciting development, the day of charging your mobile device simply from swiping on the screen or making your daily commute could be closer than we think.