Piezoelectrics, a technology in which motion creates a small voltage, is one of our favorite up-and-coming areas of research, whether it's powering DARPA's beetle-bots or dampening bumps in the road. Now, Japan's Murata Manufacturing claims they have come up with a remote control that works by harnessing the piezoelectric power generated by, well, bending and twisting the remote itself.
Called the Leaf Grip Remote Controller, the remote looks mostly like two handles with a transparent screen between them. That screen, or, more accurately, that film, has two layers of piezoelectric sensors, one of which detects bending, while the other detects a twisting motion. The film is unusual in that it shows no signs of having any pyroelectric properties, which often go hand in hand with piezoelectrics. Pyroelectrics, as the name suggests, generate voltage when exposed to changes in temperature, which Murata says "is a drawback because they cannot detect bending and twisting vibrations separately from changes in temperature."
The remote works essentially like you'd think it would: Twist the sides to move up and down channels, bend the film to change volume, that kind of thing. We do, of course, have to question the usefulness of such a control method over, you know, buttons, but it's still pretty impressive that they've managed to pull it off (if they have; we haven't seen the remote in action). What do you guys think? Any interest in bending your remote control?
Rather than losing my remote control in the sofa cushions, can they make a sofa cushion cover out of this stuff and I just shift my weight on the sofa to change a channel. I never lose my remote, and for once sitting on my butt is of good use.
why not just create a remoteless tv?
use a kinect sensor to capture hand movements that translate into tv functions, such as:
swipe your hand left or right to change chanel
raise or lower your arm to change volume
hold out your fist to turn it on/off
Nintendo comes to mind. Adding a twist to the controller would seem impressive and innovative. I could imagine twisting the controller and a ball would roll around onscreen (or on the controller itself, bend-screen XD )).
I like a voice reconnection remote from my TV and I can just tell it what I want.
extremechiton, I like your suggestion too.
The above gadget is impressive. I just do not think they have found the best use of it yet. It is cool though!
How about a Piezoelectric film underneath some buttons, so when you push them, it generates a signal - same as always - but it needs not batteries.
After all, even though the article doesn't say it, the real revolution is not in the method but in using ambient power so that batteries are unnecessary.
The reason that they're using this method, one would assume, is that this maximizes the flexion of the piezo-film...which maximizes power output. Putting the film under a button would bend a smaller amount of material, resulting in a smaller amount of generated power.
Simple but large efficiencies, on the order of 1 to 2 orders of magnitude, most likely would be needed to make the more familiar controller type function without batteries the way this one does.
It would be interesting to find out if the creators intended this to be a commercial prototype or just a step on the way to producing a more conventional remote powered by piezo-electrics.
as for the remote-less proposal, you totally don't get the research. They aren't saying this would be easier than other remotes. They're saying it would be a way to control the TV without using any power.
The Kinect-type technology is not power-efficient. it has to constantly track human movement, even when the TV is off, just in case you want to turn it on. Kinect isn't an improvement on this technology. It may be a step forward on a different technology, but it's 15 steps backwards in terms of power-efficiency in remote controls.
“why not just create a remoteless tv?
use a kinect sensor to capture hand movements that translate into tv functions”
One problem I can see with that is that, if it responds to hand waving, a disagreement over what channel to watch will not end with who is holding the remote. Both parties can change channels just by waving hands...channel 4...no, channel 6...4...6...4...6...etc
Second, if an argument develops and the people tend to gesticulate a lot when the talk/argue, the television will probably be brought to a state of hopeless confusion.