Could human motion or light eventually power many of our wireless electronic devices? A new community has been put together to help advance the field of knowledge on such topics. The Energy Harvesting Open Access Data Repository is an online resource launching this month to share data on a global scale.
The site will be launched on March 28 in conjunction with the annual Energy Harvesting Network conference “Energy Harvesting 2012.” The Network is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and managed by the University of Southampton. The alliance brings together U.K. academics, industrial researchers and end-users of energy harvesting technology.
Energy harvesting refers to the ability to power wireless electronic devices by using low grade ambient energy sources. These include things like environmental vibrations, human motion, thermal gradients and light, so they can be converted into usable electrical energy. Energy harvesting devices have the power to completely replace the need for batteries in low power electronics. And, such technologies might even be able to be used in implantable and wearable medical devices.
Last December, IBM included energy harvesting in its “5 in 5″—five emerging technologies that the company thinks will rock the world within five years. “People power,” the company declared, “will come to life.” We’ve certainly seen our share of kinetic devices come down the pike in the past year or so. There was the i-Green concept from designer Fandi Meng that sounds a lot like the bike attachment that Kolar imagined. And we wrote about advancements in devices that could harvest power from your shoes, your exercise and even the soccer ball you kick, to name just a few.
“New energy harvesting devices and systems are being continually reported, but there is little standardisation in the way in which their performance is evaluated or compared,” Geoff Merrett, a coordinator of the new network, said in a statement. “We have launched this data repository to not only provide researchers with real data to experiment with, but also to allow comparison between different devices using the same data. Obviously the success of the repository relies on its adoption by the community, both in using the data but also in further contributing to it, and I strongly encourage researchers to do so.”