tech mechanical_engineering engineering innovators power renewable_energy energy sports
Power Walking, Literally

by Txchnologist Staff

Rice University mechanical engineering students have built a prototype shoe fitting that generates enough energy to power portable electronics and recharge batteries.

The fitting, called PediPower, diverts the energy of heel strikes while walking, which would otherwise be lost into the ground, through a small gear system and generator. In bench tests, it delivered an average 400 milliwatts, enough to charge a battery or operate a cell phone. Their creation joins another body-powered generator developed by U.S. and Canadian scientists—a knee brace that can recharge up to 10 cell phones at once.

The Rice seniors hope their innovation will be improved upon by the next group taking it up to boost power output and decrease size. The goal is for the device to reliably produce enough energy to power artificial heart valves.

HT to Laughing Squid for spotting this one.

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Good Vibrations: Tech Harvests Railroad Energy to Power Gates and Signs

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by Michael Keller

A good idea can come from the most unexpected places. In Lei Zuo’s case, inspiration struck while looking out the window of a train.

Zuo was passing through a remote rural area when his eyes trained on an upcoming road crossing. It had neither gates nor powered signs.

While considering the danger to motorists who might not be cognizant of an oncoming train, he became aware of the vibrations passing through the railcar that were surely transferring to the rail on which it rode.  “I thought, ‘Hmmm, we could make energy out here just from train-induced track vibrations. This could power lights and gates,’” the Stony Brook University mechanical engineering professor says.

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New Video Process Reveals Heart Rate, Invisible Movement

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by Michael Keller

MIT video analysis experts have developed a new way to amplify subtle shifts in color and motion that are normally invisible to the naked eye.

The result of their work: video that could be used to accurately detect pulse rate based on the human face’s rhythmic flush, monitor babies’ breathing or study the movements of buildings, cranes and mechanical devices.

“You can think about what we’ve made like a microscope, except for video,” says doctoral student Michael Rubinstein, whose team came up with the now patented analytical process they call Eulerian video magnification. “It’s a tool to amplify small spatio-temporal variations you can’t normally see.”

See the video after the jump.

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There’s No Such Thing As a Jellyfish

by Michael Keller

There’s a wide world of seemingly alien, gelatinous animals living in the world’s oceans, and not one of them is a jellyfish. Ease into the workweek with this short trip through the diversity of Scyphozoa, Anthozoans, Cubozoans and their ilk with this video, which got an honorable mention at last year’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. The video was made by Steven Haddock, Susan Von Thun, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and jellywatch.org.

Before your mind floats too far into the ocean deep, take a look at these two Cnidarian-inspired creations.

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