Montreal researchers have invented earmuffs with a chin strap that turns your jawbone into an energy source, in case you were wondering how insane the quest for alternative energy sources has become.
The strap uses piezoelectricity to turn your gum-smacking and pretzel-gobbling into energy. It is made from a flexible, fibrous material called piezoelectric fibre composite. The PFC can glean energy from the mechanical activity of the jaw, and it works as a sensor and as an energy converter.
Aidin Delnavaz and Jérémie Voix, the researchers who came up with the chin strap, created it to highlight PFC’s potential as a smart material.
The chin strap prototype itself is not quite impressive. It’s literally ear muffs and PFC cobbled together, and the amount of energy generated was just 10 microwatts a minute. That’s not enough to power anything we use today, something Delnavaz and Voix admit in their paper. It was also around $US600 to create, which is completely financially infeasible for someone looking to make a DIY green-charging hack.
But this hacked-together prototype is still noteworthy. Researchers all over are conducting similar experiments, and this research will add to the growing body of work on piezoelectricity and gadget charging. Students at Berkeley Labs made textiles with piezoelectric wires woven through them, and UK telecom company Orange created a shirt that charged phones places in its pocket via piezoelectricity during the Glastonbury Festival in 2013.
Even though the chin strap is more of an oddity than anything else, this research holds promise that we’ll be able to use piezoelectricity to harness our body movements to charge devices in the future. Someday your fitness trackers might use all those steps to charge themselves. [Motherboard]
Images via Delnavaz, Voix