As a futurist myself, it is easy to contemplate the evolution of technology which may be a few hundred years away. Not many people live in my realm however and need that technology today. Tech leaps are rare so anything that does come to fruition will only change our lifestyles slightly.
Thanks to climate change – for whichever reason, that yellow thing in the Sky has some responsibility too – there have been knock on effects. Cleaner, greener alternatives and materials which are fast turning us away from fossil fuelled power on a national level.
Naturally occurring energy whether from heat, differentials between heat and cold interaction and friction can all be harnessed and converted to supply our gadgets with the electricity they need. Though there is an initial cost, the idea is that once out laid, it need never be paid for again.
We have recently seen electricity go wireless and a range of retailers and fast food outlets have immersed their product offerings in the technology. From embedded electrical points in Ikea furniture to place mats on McDonald’s tables on which you simply place your mobile to charge.
Though this is just the tip of the iceberg and unless they attach those place mats to the huge ovens in their kitchens, is not the renewable energy we the populous are seeking out.
Innovation Leads To Truly Free Electricity On The Go
Wearable technology has been a buzz for some years, at first it was about embedding our gadgets into clothing. Pockets for iPods, headphones installed in hoodies, gloves which operate our smart phones. But now it is also about using kinetic energy for powering those items.
Deep in the halls of Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, a team of budding scientists have been working on a material that turns friction into electricity. A pair of fabrics which when rubbed together cause a triboelectric effect. The sensation you get when making a spark between your finger an old style pub carpet.
If you have ever listened as you walk down the street in your oversized jacket with arms rubbing against the side of your body. It is this same friction which can be utilised to generate electricity. So called Smart Clothing generating free power could be on the street within a few years. No more need to glue yourself to a wall, just go for a walk and charge your phone as you go.
Free Drinks? Well, Never Pay For Electricity Again At Least
Similar Smart clothing tech could be installed in trainers, trousers and any part of the body which has interaction with other surfaces. Do you fancy a cup of tea? While it is possible to power a home entirely from renewable energy, heat pumps, solar panels it still costs to make the investment to change that dependency away from the national grid.
Now your cup of tea could begin the revolution in your own home. Canadian young entrepreneur, inventor and engineer Ann Makosinski who is still very much under 18. Has brought us the hand heat flashlight and is now set to roll out an E-Drink mug to power your small gadgets all from the heat of your morning coffee or tea.
Her two ideas stem from the initial invention of Peltier tiles, in this case they surround the surface of the mug, which the contents – hot tea / liquid, then heat. So much energy is lost in the home once we use it to do something. As everyone knows, energy goes on and on, if only we could harness it at every turn, instead of losing it.
The E-Drink mug, will absorb the naturally dissipating heat into the Peltier Tiles and transfer this heat along a set of wires, leading to a USB port. A drinker would simply plug their iGadget or mobile phone into the mug and it would begin charging. Being a futurist, I can envisage electric hobs, heat from light bulbs and everything else that creates heat from a power source – aluminium frames around windows during the day the extreme – being recycled and saved for later.
However for now I will just have to make do with electricity powering mugs from Ann Makosinski and turn me on smart clothing fabrics from South Korea…. before they invent solar powered personalised phone cases for our mobiles. Now that would be cool!