Talk about the ultimate green power! - Harness your own energy to generate electricity that can charge your cell phone, ipod and even your flashlight while on a hike. The possibilities are endless............
Scientists from University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh and the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, have come together to create a knee brace device that can harness the energy that normally dissipates or is wasted, when we walk.
The device captures the energy of a person's legs as it swings forward during a step. As the knee straightens and just before the foot hits the ground, the gears in the device spin, which in turn drive the electric generator. Max Donelon, a professor at the Simon Fraser University who spearheaded this research, says that electricity can be generated with just normal walking - very little extra effort is required.
The brace is still not ready for the general public. For one it is too heavy and therefore not generating electricity very efficiently. Also, there are further tests that need to be done. A company called "Bionic Power" has been formed to develop this product for the commercial market.
Once ready, the brace could quickly become very popular. Researchers believe that the army will be one of the first adopters (users). Currently, soldiers have to carry a lot of disposable batteries in their backpacks, which is not only expensive but also very heavy. This limits them from carrying other essentials like food and water. Other possible users would be people who use artificial limbs that have batteries. Finally of course, there are the long-distance runners who can charge their ipod on the "run" - literally!
What a great invention!