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Science Technology

Using Vibrations as a Power Source 42

FnH writes "The Inquirer is reporting that Hitachi has developed a technology capable of generating electricity from natural vibrations. While the amount of electricity generated is small, it could be used in sensors to relay data wirelessly to a computer."
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Using Vibrations as a Power Source

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  • Then again, let's not...
  • Insert obligatory juvenile sexual reference here.

    Now that its out of the way, lets have what passes for an intellectual discussion on this site.

  • The Seiko Kinetic Watch for women!
  • This reminds me.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Haven't we seen something like this before [slashdot.org]?
  • by mlinksva ( 1755 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:45PM (#6834785) Homepage Journal
    This article made me think "hey, what about regerative shock absorbers?" Not "natural vibrations", but anyway ... it was being studied (PDF) [osti.gov], as of 2001 anyway. That paper says that based on experiments, "the average vehicle on the average road driving at 45 mph might be able to recover up to 70% of the power that is needed for such a vehicle to travel on a smooth road at 45 mph". Anyone know of more current research or implementation plans?
  • Reminds me of the USB-powered personal massager [yahoo.com].
  • Not much info... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drakker ( 89038 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:53PM (#6835342) Homepage Journal
    The article doesnt go into details... but what if we start to mass produce them? Would my computer fan emit enough vibration to get some energy? What about hearthbeats?

    Could we put some of them under the most used roads or on wind mills? (spinning would emit vibrations, the wind too).

    I'm pretty sure that even if they dont produce much energy, a LOT of them would produce a lot of energy, vibrations are waves and they can go through a lot of those devices before beign too weak to produce any energy.
  • That is, the neighbors on the floor below pay for it with their huge stereo.

    (no, I didn't bother to read the article, this is just a lame joke)
    • Miniaturize this down to NanoScale, and you'd have a the Maxwell House Demon 3000 hot coffee energy extractor. Like Mr. Fusion, it straps nicely to a Delorian, and tucks neatly behind the can opener in the kitchen.
  • a dup (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JDizzy ( 85499 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @07:43PM (#6835541) Homepage Journal
    Technicly this is a dup [slashdot.org] of a previous technology.
  • Saw this 8 years ago (Score:5, Interesting)

    by menscher ( 597856 ) <menscher+slashdot.uiuc@edu> on Saturday August 30, 2003 @08:20PM (#6835672) Homepage Journal
    Ever see a self-winding watch? Usually they use an off-center weight that spins around to wind a spring. Saw one 8 years ago that spun a magnet through a coil of wire to charge a capacitor. Neat stuff, but you have to wear the watch every day or it will wind down.
    • by Kris_J ( 10111 )
      Swatch have two ranges of watches like this. The "Automatic" is mechainical and the "Autoquarz" is electrical. I own quite a number of Autoquarz Swatches and while the will discharge when stored, a couple of shakes and they're up and running again. In fact, if you pull the crown out so the hands stop, the watch remains charged. Seiko's latest have a neat trick. Leave it still for long enough and the hands stop moving. The batteries then last a lot longer and when you move it again it simply sets the h
  • by Kasoni ( 700097 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @08:28PM (#6835701)
    There are already motion detectors and orientation arrays (for example the clasic ball in a cage). Why would one that creates electricity be of any use? Not to mention what would it be useful for since any vibration would set it off (maybe nice for blinking lights or letting the computer know you are moving the drawing pen for you digital drawing pad, but what else?) That comment about putting them under roads is great, but how about IN cars and busses? Line the frame and they could create a load of energy. These can be used in addition to any current way of getting energy (coal-burnning plants have huge turbines that create both a lot of sound and shaking, perfect for these). You could even go so far as to line walls with them and sell it as a light energy saver and noice reducer. Hook it into the main and it will help to reduce energy useage, heck if it makes enough you could even sell off the extrea to the power company :) The only problem is making them efficent and durable enough to be worth the price and produce large enough amounts of electricity to be worth using.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2003 @08:44PM (#6835761)
    The Hitachi Magic Wand [drugstore.com] is, of course, "the cadillac of vibrators". Go Hitachi!
  • About some company who thought to wire a piezo-electric crystal to a battery.

    What will they think of next?
  • This is soo old news. This vibrations-to-power technoogy was already on the market in 2002 in self-powered structural integrity systems in tennis rackets [eetimes.com]. A similar system is used in some makes of snow skis to help dampen vibrations.

    Newer news was is Science News in August 9, 2003 in "Electric Foam" (sorry, I don't have a link to the full text). Its a way to make piezoelectric polypropylene foam. Although the material needs more development (it losses its piezoelectric properties at temperatures tha
    • Even a century ago people were building clocks that were powered by changes in air pressure. My alpine skis have LEDs mounted in them that are powered by peizo vibrations. And think geek sells a faraday flashlight powered by shaking it.
  • Just run a long wire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Sunday August 31, 2003 @12:46PM (#6838972) Homepage
    Back when I was a cub scout (about 40 years ago), we ran a 50 foot wire and a ground connection. Connected them to a neon bulb and it lit up.

    What's happening, if it isn't obvious, is that the radio signals broadcast all over the place are being "harvested" by the wire (antenna).

    Forty years later, there's so much more RF (cell phones, cordless phones, 802.11, more radio stations, leakage from power lines, etc.), you could probably get the same effect with a 10 foot wire, especially in urban areas.

    The wire can be (at least partially) coiled so it doesn't take as much space. It can also be "tuned" (trimmed to a specific length) to optimize signal reception. With a small capacitor to smooth fluctuations, you have more than enough power for micro-electronic devices.
    • With due respect, are you sure this would work? I would love to see this experiment tried again by somebody, specifically with an analysis across the frequency spectrum to attempt to determine exactly what signals are the culprit. For people trying this at home, doing the experiment with a voltmeter instead of an actual power-gobbling device (like the flourescent bulb cited) isn't going to be valid (I think). How much power does a flourescent bulb suck up anyway? I would (perhaps incorrectly) assume that i
      • Heh, no offense, but you must be pretty young. :-)

        In the "old days" crystal radios were popular. No battery, just an antenna, ground, tuning coil, "cat's whisker" diode, and earphone. The power is supplied by the radio signal itself. Reception was pretty good, even 50 miles from the transmitter.

        Now, if you want real power, run 1000+ feet of wire elevated and insulated from the ground. Instead of just harvesting RF, you've now created a long-wire capacitor, and you are harvesting static electricity fro

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