Hybrid power from your knees. Power up while braking. Sounds like sci-fi? Nope, it's real.
A small device that straps to the knee harnesses the energy when your knee reaches it's extension in a step and comes back toward the ground. That spins the gears inside the small generator.
The generator adds little effort when it is charged in this "braking phase" of a person's step cycle. More power is generated if it is set to spin the gears throughout the stride, but more effort is required, decreasing the overall efficiency.
This method of generating electricity is much more efficient than hand-cranked generators that are sometimes used on flashlights or radios. Getting the weight of the device itself down is now on the researchers agenda. But it already provides enough power to operate as much as ten cell phones.
Applications for the military, and for hikers, or emergency rescue units come to mind instantly.
This technology does not produce as much power as the backpack generators which have also been recently improved, but its light weight and small size, in an out of the way location, make it an appealing technology.
from New Scientist, "Knee device makes phone charging a walk in the park", Feb 7, 2008
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