For the past several years, IBM has been selecting “5 in 5” – five emerging technologies that the company thinks will rock the world within five years. This year’s selections included one in the energy category, but it isn’t some fabulous breakthrough in solar, wind, fuel cells or any other renewable technology that’s in the mainstream news regularly. Instead, the IBM gang pointed to personal energy harvesting. “People power,” the company declared, “will come to life.”

The presentation that comes with this prediction (see below) is a little thin in detailing how this revolution might take place. There is a blog post from IBM Distinguished Engineer Harry Kolar that notes that “the strike of your heel on the ground and the bend of your sole release a lot of dissipated energy” that can be collected, stored and used, and also that “a device on the spokes of your bicycle could measure and collect energy that’s then transmitted to power your kitchen appliances.”

IBM 5 in 5
image via IBM

But then Kolar is quickly off to talking about how the water running through your pipes – your house’s pipes, not your body’s – could be used to power your lights.

Still, IBM might be onto something with this selection, as 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.

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