Today’s technology world is certainly one that is evolving and is also bringing some of the most innovative products that have ever come to the market. One of those new technologies is energy harvesting. Energy harvesting is the process of taking energy from external sources such as the sun, thermal means, or even kinetic ways and storing that energy to have it transferred to any mobile device. This market is one that is breaking new ground and has consumers and engineers alike looking very much to the future. The following is a look at some of the energy harvesting technologies that are out there and the companies who are bringing these products to the consumer public.
First off is a look at a Chicago, Illinois based energy harvesting company called Ampy. The main energy harvesting product that they have is one called Ampy Move. Ampy Move is touted as the world’s smallest wearable motion changer. Basically what a person does is wear the Ampy Move on the arm and with your movement it generates energy which can then be transferred to any mobile device. Not only that but you can just slip the Ampy Move into your pocket and it still is able to harness energy.
As long as your smartphone has a USB 2.0 or 3.0 connector, it can be charged by the Ampy Move. The Ampy Move is the size of about a deck cards and weighs about the same as a smartphone. The Ampy Move can power a smartphone up to 1 hour at regular use and 5 hours on standby. Smartwatches can get power up to 24 hours. The Ampy Move is in a pre-order status and can be found at their website at getampy.com. Retail price has been set at $99.
SolePower uses the promotional tagline of ‘powering the future, one step at a time’. Basically what we have here is an energy harvesting device that attaches to the shoe and harvests energy for your mobile device. A special SolePower EnSole is inserted into a shoe and are water resistant and made to work in any kind of environment.
Every time a heel strikes the sole generates the power and sends it to the PowerPac connection which is outside of the shoe. There is a fabric holster that houses the PowerPac and it is this device that the USB charging can take place to the mobile device. This is another product that is in a pre-order status and the suggested retail price currently is at $199.99 and can be found at their company website at solepowertech.com.
These days are certainly good ones at Apple. With record breaking sales of the iPhone 6 and now the Apple Watch on the market, the company now is the wealthiest cash money company in the world at nearly $200 billion with nearly $800 billion in total assets. The company is also working on energy harvesting technology with a new patent they have been awarded back in March titled ‘Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device’.
This fuel cell system is one that will take materials such as hydrogen and other fuel source types and converting it into energy that can then be used to power mobile devices, laptops, and other iOS devices. This is a system that critics believe could give battery life to devices for days. With the way that Apple operates and their reputation for innovation, it could be very soon when a fuel cell energy harvesting product could be on the market.
microGen Systems, Inc. is a company that develops solutions for wireless and mobile electronic devices. They develop micro-sensors and micro-power products. Two products geared toward the energy harvesting market that they have developed are the single frequency Bolt micro-power generator and the VIBE generator which stands for Vibration Induced Broadband Excitation. VIBE is able to generate energy through vibrations.
These energy harvesting solutions are ones that are low frequency and the company is now working on integrated self powered functions for devices as well. microGen has been around since 2007 and has a headquarters based in Rochester, New York. They also do work in association with Cornell University as well.
Ricoh is a company that has been in the technology business for a long time and they have a well deserved reputation. Several weeks ago the company announced that they have created an energy harvesting product that is called ‘Energy-Generating Rubber’. What this rubber does is converts pressure and vibration into electric energy and it is able to do that with a very high rate of efficiency. Piezoelectric ceramics is the main product and ingredient that makes the rubber do its job.
The ceramic based material is one that is very flexible and is a sheet material. The rubber will be developed for utility purposes as that is what ceramics are used for. The Energy-Generating Rubber can be used in small places and large ones and its flexibility makes it so versatile. Ricoh has also said that they plan on contributing to the future of information technology with their new rubber product so it could certainly be very soon when Energy-Generating Rubber becomes something of the norm.
K3OPS is looking to revolutionize the world of electronic batteries with their RF energy harvesting batteries. The batteries are developed and designed to take ambient radiation and convert it into direct current power that can be utilized. K3OPS likes to pride itself in this clean energy solution because it eliminates any kind of electrochemical device that is currently used to convert chemical energy into usable electric energy. It has long been known that today’s batteries have caustic and harmful chemicals in them and they can prove to be dangerous to the environment.
These clean energy batteries also does not have to rely on natural resources such as nickel, zinc, or lithium which are products that have commonly been used in batteries. K3OPS also has a smartphone case like the one by Nikola Labs that converts signals into energy in order for a longer lasting battery. This company and their products have yet to come to the general consumer public and the founders are now displaying at some of the major international trade shows to get more exposure to K3OPS.
Company Energous Corporation has developed WattUp, a technology that will change your portable electronic devices wireleslly. WattUp works with a wide variety of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, wearables and much more.It is based on a Radio Frequency (RF) system that delivers wire-free charging energy at a distance of up to 5m from a transmitter to a receiver device. The company claims that WattUp transmitter can handle 12 receiver devices at any given time.
Nikola Labs is a company that is in the process of conducting a KickStarter campaign to fund a product that will convert an RF signal, BlueTooth signal, and WiFi signal into DC energy through an energy harvesting circuit. The product can be seen on their website but where they are still in a money raising and crowd funding status, not much else is really known about the company. Nikola Labs officials have released an official press release in which they save that currently they have been able to raise $1.25 million towards their product through KickStarter.
Ohio State University is also on board with helping develop and research this new energy harvesting technology. Nikola Labs has a vast array of investors and the company also received a $100,000 grant from the state of Ohio itself through their Technology Validation and Startup Fund. The main product is smartphone cases that again harvesting energy for battery life through the BlueTooth and WiFi signals from the phone. nikolalabs.co is where you can go to get more information about Nikola Labs and learn about how to contribute to their KickStarter campaign.
Humanoid type robots were things of fantasy decades ago but these days they are reality and have a lot of important functions. Society is starting to become more and more reliant on robots. StretchSense and their technology is one that is designed for this specialized market. The main product here is stretchable and flexible soft sensors that are developed in order to record stretch, bend, shear, and pressure.
These sensors work with these robotic exoskeletons and essentially are able to make these robots act and feel just like humans do. StretchSense engineers are hard at work at looking at other uses for their technology such as smart garments for sports to measure different vitals and incorporating them into driver seats so a person can get real time information about proper posture when driving a car. The sensors could also allow for a person to communicate with their vehicles as well. StretchSense products can be found at their company website at stretchsense.com and retail anywhere from $400 to $850.
NXP Semiconductors is in the energy harvesting market with their technology and innovation of Solid State RF energy. The solution that the company uses here is one that is supposed to replace bigger and larger energy generating sources with smaller ones that will be more effective and deliver a cleaner energy source and product. Their low energy and low frequency sensors are engineered to power things such as microwaves and stoves and even for car ignitions.
Light emitting plasma is also another thing that can be powered by the Solid State RF energy harvesting and generator technology from NXP Semiconductors. These sources are able to generate up to 1600 W of power which is a fair amount. NXP Semiconductors will certainly be a company that will play a huge role in the future of energy harvesting technology and the solutions and applications that they will display are certainly bound to be groundbreaking.
Finally we have Linear Technology. This company offers and sells a whole range of different energy harvesting products. Some of the technologies and energy harvesting products they have are solar, thermoelectric, and piezoelectric powered which help with the powering of all kinds of batteries. The technologies from Linear can help recharge and power batteries from AA right on up to low voltage batteries.
The company here is certainly one that offers just about everything there is to offer in the energy harvesting industry today. www.linear.com is the company website and it is here where potential customers can look at their inventory table and order online any of the solutions that they have for sale. Linear Technology has started to gain a very good reputation in the energy harvesting world and they certainly look to be a huge player in the near future in this special clean energy area.
Energy harvesting technology certainly looks to be a strong wave of the future. Everything from power generators that are fueled by kinetic energy and vibrations to plastic that can absorb energy and transfer it for use, the future is certainly bright for energy harvesting technology. Things that were part of the imagination decades ago have now become reality and that reality is one that is brighter and more optimistic than ever.
There is the possibility that the future could bring us a world of self charging batteries which means products will have eternal battery power which certainly would be better for the environment. When that day comes and energy harvesting becomes more of a household figure, it will be these companies here that will be acknowledged as being the forefathers of this most innovative technology.