Monday, May 29, 2006

Sensors that feed off energy on the move

In a CNet News post titled 'Sensors: Living off scraps of energy' it discusses how sensor power sources - long been a problem for sensor network development - is taking another step forward by sensors taking energy from momentum, and converting it into needed battery power. Very interesting - powering our own devices through our movements:

"Professor Zhong Lin Wang at the Georgia Institute of Technology has devised a sensor that can harvest mechanical energy and convert it into electricity. Embedded in the boot of a soldier, for instance, the sensor could conceivably gather energy when its wearer walks and use that energy to charge batteries for a radio or flashlight, for example. Similarly, blood flow from the heart could generate energy for an implanted medical device.

At Intel, meanwhile, researchers are looking at ways to let radio-frequency identification tags exploit energy from RFID readers to perform additional tasks. Currently, when a reader is directed at a tag, the tag typically responds by spitting out a serial number. But by inserting a capacitor or other device that can capture energy into the tag, the stored energy could be used to power a temperature sensor or an accelerometer. If someone tried to walk off with a crate, a motion sensor could send a distress signal across the network to security. It could then be periodically recharged with a quick blast."

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