The rumbling you feel driving along a bridge may soon serve a purpose beyond just waking you up behind the wheel. Researchers at MIT have developed a tiny energy-harvester that is able to harness low-frequency vibrations like those made by a bridge or pipeline and converting them to electricity for wireless sensors.
A new ultra-wideband antenna printed on paper or plastic can harvest ambient energy, enabling wireless sensors to tap into electromagnetic currents in the air around them. The device captures energy from a wide spectrum of frequencies, converts it to direct current, and stores it in capacitors or batteries.
Natural body movements such as breathing and walking could soon power pacemakers and maybe even give some extra juice to your future iPad purchase. Princeton University engineers have turned silicone rubber sheets into piezoelectric materials that create electricity when flexed, which opens up a whole range of possible applications worn outside the body or implanted in strategic locations.