A Powerful Leg-Up

I WOULD be out there getting my steps – but I forgot to charge up my Fit-Bit!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Walking gets our blood flowing and burns calories. But can walking power MORE than just our well-being?

Enter Wei-Hsin Liao from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He and his team found a way to transform energy from normal walking movements into useful electricity. Imagine WALKING to charge up our devices, like smart watches or phones – or Fit-Bits! Now that’s a lot of web browsing ON THE GO!

How is this possible? Liao designed a thin flexible macrofiber plate that attaches to the knee. As we walk, the plate bends and stretches – generating electrical charges!

But why the knee? Researchers believe this joint provides the widest range of motion. This means the macrofiber will bend MORE, and thus produce more energy.

What’s more, at less than one pound, this energy-harvesting prototype is barely noticeable. And it doesn’t hamper normal walking or cause additional energy exertion.

Marvelous! Someday it’ll power my cat video obsession — one step at a time!