Science To Turn Human Beings Into Batteries For Machines

Just like The Matrix!Great. People have figured out how to convert basic human organ function into electric energy. “The act of breathing-of moving the ribs to draw air into the lungs and expel it-can generate about a watt of power,” according to an article by Henry Fountain in today’s NYT Science Times. “And if the potato actually gets up off the couch and walks briskly across the room, each heel strike can produce even more power, about 70 watts’ worth. That energy could be put to work, charging a cellphone, say, or a medical sensor in the body. The problem is how to harvest it.”

But now some scientists at Princeton-who must have never seen The Matrix-have developed a system through housing highly efficient piezoelectric crystals, which generate electricity when bent, in a flexible, skin-safe rubberlike material. Strap ‘em on and let our moving parts-even our involuntary moving parts-make the sparks fly. “A first application might be in shoes,” Fountain reports, “to produce enough power to keep a music player or phone charged. But the eventual goal would be to make a flexible power generator that could be implanted in the chest or elsewhere.” Better, because, we won’t certainly won’t be walking anywhere briskly inside our individual-sized umbilical biopods.