Wearable Power Pocket charges mobile devices with body and heat energy

Power Pocket by Vodafone

The world is filled with zany technology. As global technology advances, so does the way we interact with it, naturally. Despite advances, there are still a few limitations that we just can’t seem to overcome. Energy consumption, for example, is one such issue. Electronic devices need power or juice to operate, that much is obvious. Unfortunately, that leaves us constantly worrying about a charger, or in a worst case scenario running out of juice in the moment.

What if we could harness the energy of our bodies and use it to charge our smartphones or tablets? Vodafone is actually going to trial prototype phone-charging technology at the Isle of Wight festival this weekend that does just that.

The Power Pocket is charging technology meshed with unique fabric material that uses the temperature differences between a person’s body and the exterior environment to generate a low-power current. This temperature contrast is referred to as the Seebeck effect.

The unique technology behind the Power Pocket was developed by the University of Southampton’s Electronics and Computer Science Department. The University of Southampton’s Professor of Electronic Systems, Steve Beeby says:

“Basically, we’re printing down pairs of what are called ‘thermocouples. You print lots of those down and connect them up to make a thermoelectric module.”

The technology can be implemented in several different ways to charge various devices. For example, it can be included in the back pocket of a pair of jeans, or it can even be added to a sleeping bag. In fact, that’s exactly what Vodafone has done, they’ve added the technology to a pair of shorts called Power Shorts, and a sleeping bag called Recharge. According to Beeby, an eight-hour sleep in the aforementioned sleeping bag will offer 24 minutes of additional talk time or 11 hours of standby time.

“That’s assuming the inside of the sleeping bag is 37 degrees.”

The actual material used in the technology is still in development, and it also needs to be made more durable. It will be a while yet before we see technology like this adopted on a grand scale, but it’s still exciting.

What do you think? Would you wear a pair of Power Shorts? Let us know in the comments below!

[via Gizmag]

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  • I once read a science fiction story, written nearly 50 years ago by E.E. “Doc” Smith, where technology like this was used for power generation. It was part of an ocean power station that produced power from waves, currents, tides, etc. This part used the temperature difference between the ocean’s surface and depths to produce power.

    He was writing about an ocean planet with little natural resources, but once again science is playing catch-up with science fiction.

  • J.L.

    [@Jimbo] Of course, I didn’t mention that, because I thought it would be obvious.

    Honestly, kinetic energy charging is so cliche that I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the article. Still great to see new ways of harnessing what’s readily available.

  • Jimbo

    [@J.L.] J.L. You may be on to something here…compare this to the old self-winding wristwatch….why not harness the Kinetic Energy of our swinging arms and legs as we walk….???

  • David Roper

    As lomg as our body furnace is producing heat, why not -and some will be disgusted at this – try to capture “somehow” the body heat thrown away by our body functions, After all, we don[t need it anymore, it’s waste, and it’s gone in seconds in the bathroom.

    Iwould invision a “charging station” attached by velcro to the home toilet on the outside of the tank or seat and the extra battery charged little by little over a period of say five days or so.

    Mary’s comment was funny at first and my wife liked it, Mary, and agreed with you. That’s what got me to thinking about heat we throw away from our bodies.

  • Mary

    Looks like a good idea. I wonder if it gets a power charge surge every time I have a hot flash? If so, they might want to add “over charge” protection!

    and @ JL: That’s a good idea too! :)

  • J.L.

    Might be better if it includes kinetic energy as well. I toss around a lot during sleep.