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Handhelds Science Hardware

Energy From Vibrations 529

Posted by Hemos
from the making-better-use-of-energy dept.
JN writes "Now here's a nifty invention. What started off as a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the Navy to a MIT professor has turned out to become a great mechanism that harnesses running machines' minute vibrations into energy. The possibilities are limitless. Aside from the obvious, imagine the ultimate cellphone - one that charges the battery every time it rings/vibrates, hence promising extended talktimes, and giving operators all the more reasons to get their customers to use their devices. How cool is that? Do I see 3G applications with a vibrate() call mandatory every couple minutes? "
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Energy From Vibrations

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  • by OwnerOfWhinyCat (654476) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:55PM (#5774027)
    On a Harley block these could power my Microwave!
    • Shit, on a Harley block it could power ALL of our microwaves!
    • by robslimo (587196) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:08PM (#5774172) Homepage Journal
      I know you're joking, but mechanical vibrations that you can't do anything to prevent are probably the best application of this technology.

      Remember conservation of energy and thermodynamics... you're not going to get 'free' energy by strapping this to a buzzing, vibrating machine. You might regain a tiny fraction of the energy which the machine is losing (wasting) through its inefficiency, but in that case, you'd probably be better off replacing or repairing the machine to be more efficient.

      The applications for this technology are narrow, like powering (small) things in inaccessible areas, like ventilation systems. You're not going to power your factory lights from the vibrations from your machining centers, but you could probably pay your light bill (in the long term) from the savings from replacing or upgrading old, worn out, inefficient machines.

      • New Failure Modes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by philovivero (321158) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:40PM (#5774429) Homepage Journal
        Remember conservation of energy and thermodynamics... you're not going to get 'free' energy by strapping this to a buzzing, vibrating machine.

        Imagine. Your systems are running fine, and suddenly half of your sensors stop working. Two days later you find out it's because the HVAC man came around and upgraded all the old compressors' parts to run with no vibration ('cuz it increases the life of those machines, you see), and now all your little micropowered machines have stopped working.

        It would seem to me depending on a machine to be inefficient (and thus stealing some of its wasted energy) has this equivalent in the software world: depending on a bug or deficiency in the OS to make your application work. Someone's gonna finally think to fix that bug or deficiency.
      • Grr (Score:5, Funny)

        by Greyfox (87712) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:49PM (#5774485) Homepage Journal
        Damn thermodynamics... always holding us back.
      • by GRH (16141) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:52PM (#5774508)
        I'm in the HVAC controls industry. Many sensors are required in ventilation systems (primarily air handlers) to control them properly. This is costly, not because of the cost of the sensor, but because of the wiring and conduit required to reach the sensor. We have little choice about the location of the sensor (it has to be able to do its job).

        There has been talk of trying to build wireless sensors (some do exist) and actuators, but the killer is the power. It either needs to be brought in on wires or battery powered. Batteries are not very good because they don't last that long (these systems are designed to run for over 10 years) and some sensors are difficult to access.

        So, this could be looked at as an enabling technology, in that it could allow wireless sensors to become practical (by running off the ductwork vibration).

        In a mid-sized office building, the installation savings from this would be around $100k. Look around at how many buildings there are...

        GRH

        • by swb (14022) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:30PM (#5774776)
          What about small windmills in the ducts?

          Wouldn't generate much power, but it might be enough to keep a battery-powered sensor charged.

          It'd create some drag in the duct, but a lot of ducts are large enough that it might not matter.

          It's too bad that you couldn't electrically charge the duct and get power from the differential between the duct and ground.
          • by Headius (5562)
            Any amount of drag created would outweigh the power generated. You're still converting mechanical energy into electrical, which nobody can do without loss. I thought about something similar way back when: attaching windmills to cars, so that when driving you generate your own electricity. Duh...windmills create drag and reduce the efficiency of the machine causing the wind, i.e. the car or the central air system, more than the amount of energy you could generate.

            Now with that said, here's another one for y
      • by CmdrWass (570427) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:01PM (#5774598) Homepage Journal
        To paraphrase the parent post's comments:

        A cell phone will use more energy to create the vibration than it will be able to regain from that vibration.

        Due to the laws of thermodynamics and energy,(particularly the law that energy can neither be created nor destroyed), the device that generates energy from vibration would then (by definition) have to absorb some of the vibration's energy. Therefore, in order for this mechanism to "produce" any amount of valuable energy, the source (the cell phone) would have to increase its vibration. However, it will always be the case that the cell phone uses more energy than it gains back (otherwise the phone wouldn't vibrate). Therefore, it would be more condusive of the cell phone to focus its energy on notifying its owner of an incoming call, and do so in the most efficient way.

        Basically, (as stated in the parent post) this invention at MIT doesn't do much for the cell phone industry. Cell phones would be better off being more efficient with the energy they have rather than trying to regain some of the energy expelled while producing environmental feedback.
      • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Monday April 21, 2003 @03:26PM (#5775193) Homepage Journal
        More importantly...since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, doesn't this effectively reduce the vibrations themselves as well?

        Which means other great things besides generating "free" energy...basically, it reduces the need for vibrational dampening systems, and reduces the overall wear and tear on a machine. Even if it's only a minute difference, it could have a profound effect on the reliability of machines from combustion engines to eletrical transformers, and possibly a reduction in transient EMF (due to induction in steel casings vibrating near a magenetic field) as well!

        All these cool things actually lead me to believe that the idea doesn't work. It seems too good to be true...a little extra power, less maintenance and maybe even cleaner signals? Like Stewie said, "This is so good it HAS to be fattening."
        • Well, yes, it would reduce the vibrations - you are stealing kinetic energy from the system.

          Your post made me wonder; take a finely engineered and balanced system like large turbines are; if we attach one of these devices and change the vibrations within the system, wouldn't there be a danger creating new harmonics not allowed for in the engineering design that could damage components? AFAIK most vibrations in mechnical systems are either modeled out or dealt with after the system is introduced. Wouldn'
  • Indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:55PM (#5774029) Homepage Journal
    Reminds me of this [slashdot.org] article. But seriously, wouldn't the daily movement of the cell phone user also be useful? Granted, it's not as vigorous as the vibrate feature, but it has to account for something.

    "Crud, I dropped my cell phone. But now I have ten more minutes of talk time! Gotta love solid state!"
    • Re:Indeed (Score:2, Informative)

      by ghoting (542145)
      But seriously, wouldn't the daily movement of the cell phone user also be useful?

      That was my thinking, too. That sort of "recharge" has been available in wrist watches for some time (no winding necessary, your wrist movements do it). For a cell phone with small power needs, it would seem a simple thing to accomplish.
      • Re:Indeed (Score:5, Informative)

        by agentkhaki (92172) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:06PM (#5774151) Homepage
        Unless the phone happens to be one of those nifty wrist-based one, the answer is no, this won't work. The kinetic watches work on the theory that you a) swing your arms, however so slightly or greatly, when you walk b) you tend to walk around quite a bit (even if it's just going to the fridge to grab another barrel of soda) and c) even when you're not walking around, your arms are moving.

        Contrast that with a cell phone, which is either a) attached to your hip or b) sitting on your desk. When you're walking around, you might be able to harness some energy, the amount of which would increase the farther down your leg you carried it, but when you're just sitting around, or when you're doing your filing, or whatever, you wouldn't be doing anything for the phone.

        Furthermore, any gain would quickly be balanced out by the fact that, just like the watches, you would need an electric device that constantly moves the phone around when you're not going to be using it for a certain period of time (longer than overnight, I believe).
        • Re:Indeed (Score:5, Funny)

          by Torqued (91619) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:25PM (#5774311) Journal
          "Unless the phone happens to be one of those nifty wrist-based one, the answer is no, this won't work."

          1: Momentum powered wrist cell phone
          2: Porn
          3: !!!!!!!!!
          4: Profit! (or at least unlimited power!) :)
        • Re:Indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

          by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@gmai l . com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:33PM (#5774374)
          I don't think this will work, either, but I think your reasoning is a bit off. Obviously powering a cell phone won't work in the same way as those wrist watches work, but that's kind of the point: there's a new technology converting vibration into electrical energy. Those wrist watches do something similar, but in a different way (I'm studying CS not EE, I don't know any specifics).

          There are vibrations to convert, not the ones the article refers to (which is fairly ridiculous) but rather the ones generated by carrying around your cell phone with you. The traditional, "wrist" way might not be able to tap that "source" of energy, but this new tech might.

          Finally, this obviously could be used as an additional source of energy. There would still need to be a battery, and there could still be a charger to recharge the battery from mains power. So no constant moving required.

          However, at least judging by the article, this still wouldn't work. Cell phones are designed to work with hardly any energy, but it does seem that this technology can only generate very minute amounts of energy, too - enough to power a sensor or an LED, but probably not enough to considerably prolongue a cell phones battery life. Certainly not enough to justify the added technology this would require.

      • Re:Indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dev_sda (533180) <nathanNO@SPAMunit03.net> on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:21PM (#5774272) Homepage Journal
        That was my thinking, too. That sort of "recharge" has been available in wrist watches for some time (no winding necessary, your wrist movements do it). For a cell phone with small power needs, it would seem a simple thing to accomplish.

        Its the same basic concept but the degree of difference between the levels of energy generated by the daily movements of a person compared to the power required by a cellphone is huge. The amount of 'vibration energy' you release on a daily basis would probably add 10 minutes of talk time to a low powered cell phone a day. I also like the submitter's misconception of general physics:

        How cool is that? Do I see 3G applications with a vibrate() call mandatory every couple minutes?

        Right. Energy for free! Unfortunately the mythical +100% efficiency machine has yet to be built (and never will). This technology only recovers percentages of energy lost due to machine inefficiency and friction. The day x amount of energy generates y amount of energy where y > x is the day the universe implodes.
      • Re:Indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Raskolnk (26414) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:23PM (#5774744)
        Based on my experience, I have a theory that the kinetic watch thing is an evil conspiracy. My wife bought me an expensive Citizen Eco-Drive watch. Ran great for a while, but eventually stopped. The guy from the store told me to put it under a lamp for the night to "recharge" WTF? So, I bring the watch back in to the shop, and they tell me they need to send it to Citizen to be serviced. Worked again, but a year later, same situation. It almost made me wonder if their Eco-Drive device (or whatever it was called) is actually a marketing term for "hidden watch battery that can only be replaced by the company."
  • by kin_korn_karn (466864) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:55PM (#5774032) Homepage
    I know plenty of women that get energy from vibrating objects.
  • Perpetual motion vibrators!
  • "Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics"

    The article is (I assume) about energy recovery/scavenging, but the article poster just invented perpetual motion, arguing that the vibrator from the ringer could power the cellphone.

    HA.
    • by StevenMaurer (115071) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:06PM (#5774146) Homepage
      The patent is certainly intended to cover large scale industrial equipment, not mobile phones. In that case, not only would you get excess electricity, but the very act of harnessing that power would also serve to quiet them -- a double bonus.

      Hemos is like a lot of sci-fi fans: he thinks technology is cool, but he hasn't bothered to understand the science it's based on.
    • To all naysayers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:07PM (#5774157)
      The vibration of a cell phone is not wasted. It is intentional. To pick up energy from the vibration would be to damp it, then you'd have to vibrate more to get the same alerting effect.

      Even if you could get power from the vibration, it would mean that the vibration (which is intentionally selected) is unwanted, or that you would have to crank up the power going into the vibration to compensate.

      This supposed energy collector is meant to pick up wasted, unwanted vibrations from engines, ventilation ducts, etc. Not from intentional vibrations.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:37PM (#5774398)

      The article is (I assume) about energy recovery/scavenging

      Classic slashdot. You know, you could actually read the article and find out. You do go to berkeley.

      the article poster just invented perpetual motion, arguing that the vibrator from the ringer could power the cellphone.

      Well, he didn't imply "power," he stated "recover." As others have mentioned, any vibration recovered isn't giving you that tingly feeling that says your phone is going off. So nothing doing there, but Hemos isn't quite as daft as you think. (Insert ./ editor joke here)

      What this article is really about (I feel like I'm making Cliff's Notes here for the science-deprived) is not recovering a significant proportion of power from a low-power device like a cell phone. It's about powering a milliwatt-draining device like a sensor off of, say, a megawatt-producing device like a nuclear reactor. This is actually kind of cool, since as the article states (for the literate among you), there are places with no light, no wiring, and a lot of vibrations where you might need power. So this has the chance to do some cool things - just don't expect it to actually extend the life of your cell phone or be a perpetual-motion machine.

      On the interesting side, this would make a cool way to create non-powered earthquake sensors. When it gets a quake, it transmits its position and maybe have the power out proportional to power in. You could distribute hundreds of them and have a real-time quake sensor that might be better than triangulating.

      Also, could be useful to track vehicles if you slap it on the chassis. Again, deploy once, no worries about going dead.

  • Remember Friction? (Score:3, Informative)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:57PM (#5774053) Homepage Journal
    imagine the ultimate cellphone - one that charges the battery every time it rings/vibrates

    You'll still need to recharge the phone (maybe not as much, but I'm pretty sure that you won't find that significant of a different from regular phone), otherwise you are talking perpetual motion machines.
    • by jeffy124 (453342)
      what about the simple vibrations a phone endures just sitting on someone's belt? would simply walking around create enough vibration on the phone?
  • Since the posts thus far are mostly about cell phones regaining power by ringing.. Step 1: Vibrate. Step 2: Violate laws of thermodynamics. Step 3: ? Step 4: Profit!
  • Perpetual Dildo
  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by philovivero (321158) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:58PM (#5774064) Homepage Journal
    Yes! A phone that charges itself when it rings or vibrates.

    And next, we can build a machine that, when slowing down from drag, uses that potential energy to cause another part of itself to move faster. Then, it would never stop. We could task it to make electricity to power... everything!

    From cars that have more electricity at the end of the trip than when they started, to bicycles that coast faster when going uphill, the possibilities are... perpetual!
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

      by pcol (577822) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:22PM (#5774291) Homepage Journal
      Actually there is a way to store the energy when a vehicle brakes into a flywheel and then use it to re-acelerate the vehicle after the stop. It's called a regenerative braking system.

      No violation of conservation of energy. You are simply storing part of the energy that would have gone into heat and re-using it later.

      Take a look at: Urenco Power Technologies [uptenergy.com] - they've been doing this for years.
      • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GreyyGuy (91753)
        Big difference between getting some energy back during the braking process and getting back 100% or more then 100% of the original energy expended to get it up to speed.
      • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by marauder404 (553310)
        Right, and that's a good point, but the purpose of the regenerative braking system is to recover some of the losses associated with braking, not to recharge the car's fuel supply so that it can continue to go. The submitter makes the mistake of thinking that the cell phone could vibrate and allow it to keep going for another hour. That's akin to getting low on fuel, applying the brakes, storing the scrubbed kinetic energy, and then using it to start accelerating again. Even with 100% efficiency, you're no b
  • Good catch with "extended lifetimes". But consider that the only energy that can be recaptured is the energy expended ringing the phone, and only that portion that doesn't need to connect with the user's ear. Probably not significant, unfortunately.

    Car engines. Enough said.
  • Thermodynamics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Psion (2244) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:58PM (#5774071)
    Any energy captured from a vibration recovery system will unavoidably be less than the energy required to make the mechanism vibrate. Now capture of energy from externally generated vibrations would be useful...recharge your phone by placing it on top of a tower with a noisy fan.
  • Not perpetual motion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Plastik (7128) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:59PM (#5774076) Homepage
    This is a way to power small, low-power devices parasitically from the vibrations of a much larger engine. Actually very interesting.
  • This should be an excellent way to damp noise from vibrating machinery, but you need somewhere to dump the electricity, e.g. a light bulb. So "loud" would become "bright".

    P.S. You can't recharge the battery fully from a vibrating phone, because some of the vibration has to exit the phone to tell you it's ringing, and because of the 2d law of Thermodynamics and the fact that it's your battery that's causing the vibration in the first place.
  • I am no scientist... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrWhizBang (5333)
    but even I can figure out that cell phones are _not_ an application for this technology. This is talking about machines that vibrate anyways, and using the vibration as a means of reclaiming some of the energy expended throught the vibration. Cell/pager vibration will always require more energy to vibrate than they can reclaim unless the efficiency of this mechanism is greater than 100% (and unless my understanding of high school physics is wrong that is not possible.)

    Can people read and understand article
  • very funny (Score:5, Funny)

    by joss (1346) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:01PM (#5774093) Homepage
    > one that charges the battery every time it rings/vibrates

    I sure hope you are just making a joke. If you're not being deliberately stupid, I impressed by your natural talent.

    Anything that obtains energy from vibrations or sound is going to dampen those vibrations or muffle the sound [same thing really]. If phones can save energy like this, maybe you can levitate by pulling your own hair up. In fact, I recommend you try this.
  • by Da Fokka (94074) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:01PM (#5774096) Homepage
    If vibration is used to gain energy from it, the vibration will be damped accordingly following the law of conservation of energy.
    A phone charging when it vibrates is therefore pointless.
    Nevertheless this invention could have a host of useful appliances.
  • by Jack Porter (310054) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:01PM (#5774097)
    Where do you think the energy to make the phone vibrate comes from?

    Getting energy from the vibrations from the environment around a device is a great idea, but the submitter is on crack about getting more cell phone battery life.

    Any extra juice you got would reduce the amount of virbation aparent to the user, so you'd have to spend at least that amount of energy extra to still have a working virate feature. You could have even longer talk time by not vibrating at all.
  • I'm sure (well, I hope anyway) JN had his tongue in his cheek when he proposed a perpetual motion application for this technology.

    Remember, they're not just the "good ideas" of thermodynamics, they're the law.

  • This type of technology could have some interesting applications. What I see though is having this thing take a lot of the "dirty work" away from regular workers. If devices such as electric meters could power themselves they could power a transmitter/cell phone device that can eliminate the need for meter readers to physically come out to each meter and record the readings. Also many places where people would prefer not to go, such as sewers and duct systems.

    However I do not see this as replacing the

  • I'm pretty sure that it would take infinitely more energy to do the vibrate() call than you would generate by the phone actually vibrating. The net effect would be an energy loss. Making the phone more effecient by collecting back some of the energy when the phone rings is a good idea, but just vibrating the phone every so often to create energy won't work.

    If you've heard that you can charge a phone by calling it's vibrate() function then I have a bridge and some ocean front property in Arizona to sell yo
  • by deanj (519759)
    They've been able to do this with watches for years. I had a Seiko when I was a kid that did this.

    I would think that it would take a heckuva lot of moving around to charge a cellphone, but I would imagine that there are other parts of a phone that could take that energy and use it. Not everything would have to run off the battery you have now.
  • by 3DKnight (589972)
    No only if they could harness the wasted energy that sites writers use by making all the "high-tech" terms in their articles clickable to websearchs of the said terms to try and make it seem "cutting edge" internet reporting.
  • The really great thing about this concept would be if you could charge your cell phone while driving in the car, carrying it around in your pocket, and soforth.

    There are seiko watches that do a similar thing (and there were mechanical watches that did it for years before quartz became the norm) but I am afraid it would be hard to extract enough power from these small movements to make much difference in a cell phone.

  • The possibilities are limitless. Aside from the obvious, imagine the ultimate cellphone - one that charges the battery every time it rings/vibrates, hence promising extended talktimes, and giving operators all the more reasons to get their customers to use their devices. How cool is that?

    Sure, hook the vibrating device of your cellphone (vibrator?) to the battery and have this new generator recharge the battery again. With the right settings you could have infinite power supply!!

  • If you harnessed (sp?) the energy from the vibrating cell phone, wouldent it cease to vibrate, and thus be quite lame? The original article is ok, but this poster hasn't really thought this stuff through. Nick Harbour
  • Laws of Physics (Score:3, Informative)

    by chhamilton (264664) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:06PM (#5774144)
    I'm pretty sure that a call to vibrate() every few minutes will do nothing but drain the battery quicker. Obviously, the conversion from vibration back to stored electricity can't be 100% efficient, so vibrating the phone will always cause a net loss.

    As somebody else mentioned, would this be able to harness motion of the phone? Most people lug their cell phones around in a pocket/bag/purse, and they go through a lot of motion in your average day. Given that this technology is purpose-built to extract energy from engine vibrations (thousands of RPMs) it seems unlikely that it could efficiently harness day-to-day jarring of a cell phone. Perhaps a mechanism like that found in self-winding watches (a simple unbalanced wheel and some gearing) might be better suited to the task... anybody know if this would be practical, or if it has been done before?
  • by metlin (258108) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:06PM (#5774152) Journal
    Do I see 3G applications with a vibrate() call mandatory every couple minutes?

    And I thought there was just *one* of them G thingys that needed vibration.

    And now its gonna be mandatory?! Every 2 mins?

    ahem ;-)
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spackler (223562) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:06PM (#5774153) Journal
    This is one slashdot story I'll need to read at -1, just for the vibrator trolls
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:06PM (#5774154) Homepage
    How did this get past the Slashdot editors? Or did they put the random number program in charge of story selection again?

    The actual invention is interesting, but only marginally useful. The idea is to power various low-power sensors using airflow or duct vibration in HVAC systems. This makes possible wireless sensors in some specialized applications. There might be applications in medical devices. But it's not a general purpose energy source.

  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:07PM (#5774165)

    I dunno about this -- my girlfriend seems to have no energy whatsoever left after I apply vibrations to her for 10-15 minutes straight...
    • by DASHSL0T (634167) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:46PM (#5774471) Homepage
      I dunno about this -- my girlfriend seems to have no energy whatsoever left after I apply vibrations to her for 10-15 minutes straight... That's odd, she usually tuckers out at the 8 minute mark for the rest of us.
  • by LuxFX (220822) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:08PM (#5774167) Homepage Journal
    I had an idea kind of like this a while back, when I had to replace the little watch battery in the key fob for my car (the little remote-control that unlocks my doors). So instead of having to replace this battery, I thought it would be a good idea to make it a small rechargable battery. It would utilize the kinetic vibrations of the car, which would be transfered into electricity. Or to be more precise, inside the keyfob would be a tiny magnet on the end of a tiny spring. The vibrations would cause the spring to wave the magnet around, and the moving electromagnetic field would be transferred into electricity.

    This would be especially efficient for the keyfobs that are part of the key structure themselves, so that they are directly connected to the steering column (as opposed to the ones that are simple part of the keychain and just dangle under the steering column)

    And it's not like I'm claiming originality on this -- I got the idea from a tiny cell phone a friend brought back from Japan. It had no connectors on it to recharge the battery, but the recharger base would vibrate when the phone was set on it, and passed the electicity via electromagnetic fields.

  • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:08PM (#5774169) Journal
    Please. Everyone should make basic errors in logical reasoning in their submissions, that way, we'll never talk about anything else. Slashdot will be ruined. My evil plans will come to fruition! Ah ha ha ha ha HA HA HA!
    • Haha. I wonder what Hemos was thinking when he posted this. Either:

      Wow neato! This will revolutionize the world. Our cell phones can power everything in life by just vibrating more.

      or...

      Oh man, this JN character is gonna get it. Let the flames commence!

      or...

      The inevitable vibrator jokes are too good to pass up. I must post it.

  • aw crap... (Score:3, Funny)

    by aarondsouza (96916) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:09PM (#5774181)
    I can just see the spam hitting my mailbox...


    12 inch vibrator! Save the environment while you pleasure yourself!

  • No free lunch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tailhook (98486) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:23PM (#5774292)
    While there are many potential applications for scavenging vibration, the specific example cited in the post is poor. If you scavenge the energy expended to make a phone vibrate it will, of course, no longer vibrate. Sort of self defeating.

    The trick is to identify sources of vibration that inherently useful. Could you, for instance, harness vibration from an internal combustion engine? If so, you would improve the entire system dramatically by eliminating the need for an alternator and reducing unwanted vibration with something more productive than pneumatics, hydraulics, rubber bumpers and foam.

    Vibration is a profoundly complex matter. People devote entire careers to understanding and mitigating vibration. I have an engine in my car that has two "balance shafts". One of these shafts spins at 2x the speed of the crankshaft. I believe this is because a 90 deg V6 is an inherently unbalanced design. Yet engineers go to extraordinary lengths to mitigate this because the net benefits of the complete package outweigh the cost of creating a lot of additional rotating mass.
  • by FreshMeat-BWG (541411) <bengoodwyn@m e . c om> on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:26PM (#5774324) Homepage
    So the Navy initially funded this research? Hmmm... So the tiny vibrations normally transmitted through the hull of the submarine as noise now gets converted into electrical energy with a by-product of dampening the vibrations? Very interesting. Not that they need the energy on a nuclear sub, but they definitely don't need the vibrations causing noise.
  • by Qzukk (229616) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:27PM (#5774332) Journal
    Obviously the idea of the cellphone charging itself by using its battery power to vibrate to recharge the battery is bunk, but that aside, there are plenty of other vibration sources. Your cellphone could just clip onto your dashboard and charge with every little bump you drive over (of course, newer suspensions would make that a little harder to do ;). There are a lot of other vibration sources out there as well.

    Vibration can also easily be produced from renewable resources, or as a byproduct of other processes. Imagine on the street above a subway, having a "charging table" which vibrated every few minutes as the train passed under it. Or a wind-powered system to do the same thing.
  • by Idou (572394) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:30PM (#5774347) Journal
    Subject title sums up my knowledge in these fields, so I will do everyone a favor and shut-up at this point.
  • by angst911 (414454) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:37PM (#5774394) Homepage
    haven't you ever heard of conservation of energy or entropy? Everytime the phone rings, some energy would be used and some of the might be regained, but not all of it, so rining the phone occaisonally would just be a waste because you wouldn't get all of the energy from each ring back.

    Now go sit in the corner and think about what you are about to say before it comes out of your mouth.
  • by Glyndwr (217857) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:48PM (#5774481) Homepage Journal
    How marvellously novel. I'm sure no-one has ever found a way to absorb energy from movement and store it for later use [howstuffworks.com] before, or turn that stored energy into electricity [seikousa.com].

    And on the subject of using the phone's own vibrating alert to recharge the battery: "Lisa! In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!".
  • by jcwren (166164) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:15PM (#5774692) Homepage
    Imagine an energy scavenger like this inside a standard PC keyboard. You could power Intels hungriest processors using Windows and Ctrl-Alt-Del...
  • by dfn5 (524972) on Monday April 21, 2003 @02:23PM (#5774745) Journal
    Scientists have learned to use Solar cells to harness the power of the light bulb. This energy, in turn, can be used to power more light bulbs of which can be harnessed by more cells.

    "I don't know why we didn't see it before", stated a young lab assistant at the M.I.T center for alternative energy. "I wonder if Thomas Edison truely realized the potential in his invention."

  • by edrugtrader (442064) on Monday April 21, 2003 @03:06PM (#5775046) Homepage
    i would think it would be obvious to this crowd, but it was mentioned twice in the summary alone.

    the energy required to make the cell phone vibrate would be more than it could recoup from charging from vibrations. there is no perpetual cellphone.
  • by someguy (23968) on Monday April 21, 2003 @06:03PM (#5776310)
    It's sad to see articles from people that don't understand conservation of energy. The only thing that would happen with a "mandatory vibration" is a loss of total energy. You can't get free energy from the system. Either the poster got trolled or is just talking out of his ass.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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