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Power Portables Hardware

New Twist on Power Walking 253

An anonymous reader writes "Carrying a newly designed backpack loaded with between 44 and 84 pounds of gear, users generate enough electricity to simultaneously power an MP3 player, a PDA, night vision goggles, a handheld GPS, a CMOS image decoder, a GSM terminal in talk mode, and Bluetooth."
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New Twist on Power Walking

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  • by richie2000 ( 159732 ) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:43AM (#13517202) Homepage Journal
    - You're a gargoyle [metaweb.com].
  • might be worth it for over weight kids that want to power their game boy while walking for a change ...

    I suppose it'll help build muscle too lol
    • According to TFA, the backpack changes a walker's gait so that they actually walk more efficiently, so maybe not! Shame for all the fat kids, though.
    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:26AM (#13517359)
      Unfortunately, dismounted infantry have to carry around heavy backpacks most of the time, see for instance [smh.com.au]:
      A typical operation lasts for five or six days in the field, requiring each man to bring 22 litres of water, ammunition and packs that can weigh up to 90 kilograms, along with an M-4 carbine and a 9mm sidearm. Other missions can go on for 10 days.
      More and more, batteries only add to the problem... recycling some of the walking energy to reduce the need for batteries is a fantastic idea, getting it to actually work is even better.

      Maybe next they can reduce the need to carry water by recycling urine!

      • by Divide By Zero ( 70303 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @09:29AM (#13518141)
        Well, my mod points expired, so I'll have to just agree with you.

        US Army's been developing computers for infantry for the last few years (I forget the code name, but it was typical Pentagon two parts macho two parts silly one part corny) and the stuff I read/saw said that the limiting factor was battery life. Rechargables are HEAVY. Tack that onto a 90kg pack that he's carrying anyway, and range gets shorter as your soldiers carry more If a grunt can power his laptop, field radio, GPS, and other electronics on the battlefield by walking and carrying the stuff he has to take anyway, and have that power generation help HIM to walk more efficiently, he can effectively power his gadgets for free AND get extended range by using less energy to walk/run. I can't see any way Defense ISN'T gonna be all over this like white on rice.

        I've been somewhat involved in Geocaching, and one of the biggest complaints of cachers is running out of batteries for their GPS. One of the most popular trade items is spare AA batteries. If they can make this affordable to the consumer, and you can carry your water, trades, poncho, and whatever else you need for a day in the woods and power your Garmin or Magellan on the strength of that, that's huge.

        Then there's the college kids with their newfangled eye-pods, high schoolers with cells, grade schoolers with game boys. They all carry a bunch of books everywhere they go. My high school backpack was 30-40lbs. That's a cell or PDA no prob. Retrofit a briefcase for Joe Yuppie to carry his paperwork and recharge his blackberry or laptop at the same time. Less time tied to an outlet, more time being on the road and productive (or so he'd have you believe). Get a small rig, put your mp3 player in it, strap it to your waist and go jogging. Kiss your low-battery warning goodbye. Make a tiny version and build it into a digital wristwatch, never change your battery again.

        How are these people NOT going to be writing their own check?
        • ...HEAVY... 90kg pack... range gets shorter...walk more efficiently...

          Dare I suggest... bicycles?

        • Make a tiny version and build it into a digital wristwatch, never change your battery again.

          They already do that, its generally called a kinetic watch, not to be confused with the automatics that have been around for a while (automatics use kinetic motion to wind a spring)Kinetics use motion th run a small generator.

          http://seikousa.com/Technology/TechDetails.aspx?t e chnologyId=2 [seikousa.com]
          • I've long wondered why they don't add such touches to things like cell phones. If it slowly charged as carried around and had a photo-conductive skin that'd let it also slowly charge when left in the light then no more than I use my phone it'd probably always be charged. I carry it everywhere but only use it a few minutes a day.

            Not that I need to charge my phone often. About once a week. Still it'd be nice to never have to charge it or for it to slowly recover if used til drained.

            Probably be good for camera
      • each man to bring 22 litres of water, ammunition and packs that can weigh up to 90 kilograms, along with an M-4 carbine and a 9mm sidearm.

        Are you trying to tell me these guys carry about 260 pounds of gear each around the place?

        Recycling some of the walking energy

        You don't recycle walking energy, you _drain_ extra walking energy, so it will be heavier to wealg, given the same total load. Have you ever ridden a bicycle with a dynamo-driven headlight? That's more or less the idea. Even with just a few watts,
        • You don't recycle walking energy, you _drain_ extra walking energy, so it will be heavier to wealg, given the same total load. Have you ever ridden a bicycle with a dynamo-driven headlight? That's more or less the idea.

          Or it might be more like regenerative braking - not energy for free, but putting energy to use that would otherwise be wasted.

          The guy carrying the pack is already raising it by a small amount with every step (because it bobs as he walks). Thus he is doing work. If the weight is suspend

    • If you're just looking for enough power for a game boy, you might well be able to do it with a standard bag. 84lbs is the top end of the power range.

      http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7970 [newscientist.com] has another viewpoint, and even a clear picture.
  • by silasthehobbit ( 626391 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:45AM (#13517209)
    A walking target for muggers. Or if you went on the London Underground with it, increase your likelihood of being shot by the Met Police exponentially
    • You can do that just by being from Brazil.
    • by FidelCatsro ( 861135 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [orstacledif]> on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:06AM (#13517278) Journal
      With a few modifications you could be a walking talking beat-em up character ."Lighting bolt thrust" ..."Spinning Electro kick".. no mugger could touch ***"Nine Volt Man***
      That joke was shocking
    • This isn't for people who aren't already walking around with a backpack full of stuff. In the city, it would only be useful for children at school, who carry that much weight in books. Mostly, it's for the sort of folk who have to carry a bunch of survival gear anyway -- hikers, soldiers, etc.

      The ballast is whatever load you're already carrying anyway, not 85 pounds of power generating machinery.

    • Give me a line of guys with SlBs (Suspended-load Backpacks) connected to the pleasure centers of their brains and I'll give you an Earth sized yoyo.

      After a long day of marching to power the Sultans air conditioning, the slaves dreaded when it was time for Must See TV.

      Well, what we think happened is that somehow the wires got crossed...he musta been going about 60 miles an hour when his tennis shoe blew.

      billy - from the land of unintended consequences
  • by blankoboy ( 719577 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:46AM (#13517216)
    Not only generating power but instantly increasing your popularity with the fairer sex.
  • by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:48AM (#13517226) Homepage
    The incredible accuracy of this list of items that the backpack can power quite astounds me.

    "Sorry sir, if you want to play WMAs you'll need the extended BackpackWindows version."

    "Sorry sir, USB2.0 is not supported. Have you considered using BlueTooth?"

    "Sorry sir, federal law requires you to wear night vision goggles while carrying this backpack. Yes, sir, I'm aware it's high noon. Regulations."

    "Sorry sir, but is that GSM terminal in talk mode? It is? OK, just checking... some tourists think they can use stand-by mode."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's the new user-friendly standard notation for electric power. All that stuff about Watts and Joules was bound to confuse people!
  • Kangaroo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by awol ( 98751 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:49AM (#13517231) Journal
    Sounds a lot like the energy differential shown by hopping kangaroos. Their energy consumption is remarkably low given the velocities they generate and it seems to be the result of energy stored in their lower leg tendons. In other words they are using the same benefits to get a large increase in overall energy output with a marginal increase in metabolic consumption.
  • by SimilarityEngine ( 892055 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:49AM (#13517235)

    ...enough electricity to simultaneously power an MP3 player ... night vision goggles ...

    Great! Now I can assasinate people while listening to the Kill Bill soundtrack!

  • Sadly... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:56AM (#13517252) Homepage
    ...carrying all that gear means that the calls you do make on the GSM device in talk mode sound like heavy breathing pervert-o-calls, and you'll get busted for harrassment :)
  • Uses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FirienFirien ( 857374 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:00AM (#13517261) Homepage
    While at the moment this is spawning a handful of standard amusing slashdot responses, you miss a more useful application - that of field operatives. And you can take 'field operatives' to mean soldiers and the like - being able to use all kinds of equipment that would normally require more power than is available should improve things, although bear in mind they already carry heavy packs so it wouldn't be one per person. The other kind is the more normal field operative - anyone who goes exploring/researching/hiking/prospecting... if you don't have to carry samples back to base camp for analysis, or can power *anything* enabling, then you're ddoing well with one of these. Remember that most people don't need the long list of things mentioned in the post; but for enabling people who are away from home, this looks like it could be really handy.
    • it's pretty obvious they're a target user group, though maybe with different configuration.

      the night vision goggles kind of give it away.
    • And best of all, the field operatives won't have to carry the load themselves. They can strap these backpacks to be backs of dolphins, or camels, or something.
  • by dvandok ( 94559 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:17AM (#13517326) Homepage
    By carrying a load weighing from 44 to 84 pounds (20 to 38 kg) [...] The electricity [...] can be stored in a lightweight rechargeable battery for later use, greatly reducing the need to haul and use heavy replacement batteries.

    I think that bringing 30 kg in replacement batteries should last me the entire vacation!

    • Wow, you actually quote the article, but miss the crucial fact that the load can be anything - like clothes, a tent or food. Backpackers already carry that much weight, bringing 30 kg in replacement batteries is not an option.
  • why bother (Score:2, Insightful)

    by k31dar ( 913590 )
    Carrying between 44 and 84 pounds of backpack will negate the need to carry heavy batteries. So how heavy are batteries for MP3 players and PDA's these days?
    • A AAA (or LR03) cel weights about 11gr. http://audiovisual.kelkoo.co.uk/b/a/sbs/126301/122 87356.html [kelkoo.co.uk]
    • Considering that my Sony MP3 player goes for a whole month on one AAA cell, your 30 pounds of spare batteries will corrode, self discharge and MP3 will be obsolete as a music format, before you get to the end of that many batteries...
    • Re:why bother (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )
      Well, that all rather depends on how long you intend to listen, doesn't it?

      IIRC Li ion batteries store 150 Wh/kg. 44 lb (the lower weight I guess of this unit) is about 20kg; if you were to use Li-ion batteries then this weight would buy you 3000 Wh of energy. Your break even depends on your load:

      7w: 430 hours
      1w: 3000 hours
      100mw: 30,000 hours = 1250 days = 3.5 years.

      Of course, if you are using individual cells, your weight efficiency isn't ideal, but you can discard them as you go along, reducing your loa
  • ...that this was posted on the same day as the article about the robotic hand?

    1 + 1 = 2 (say hello to a new era of beach voyeurism)
  • Picture and Details (Score:5, Informative)

    by enoraM ( 749327 ) * on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:29AM (#13517374)
    Here's a picture http://www.heise.de/bilder/63699/0/1 [heise.de] . The aparatus just takes a small part of the weight. However, you have to put something in your backpack, whatever it is, to generate power.
  • by speculatrix ( 678524 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:51AM (#13517445)
    why new?
    self-winding watches have been around for many years to store energy in springs to power a watch, and Seiko and other companies have watches which store electricy in ultra-capacitors.

    why a backpack?
    why not use wrist- or ankle-mounted generators, which get a lot more movement, so presumably the generator could be a lot smaller and lighter?

    • A backpack makes better sense because it is jostling a large amount of weight predictably in the vertical direction. F = m * a. On the other hand/knee, your wrist or ankle-mounted generator is only moving that body part, a much smaller mass.
      • Well, on the other hand, if you would be running with a knee-mounted generator, perhaps it could make difference. Of course, you would not be running with a heavy backpack, but you might want to charge your batteries while jogging (which you might be doing anyway)?

    • why not use wrist- or ankle-mounted generators...?

      Now, shake that ass!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      why not use wrist- or ankle-mounted generators, which get a lot more movement, so presumably the generator could be a lot smaller and lighter?

      Let me put it this way. Which is going to hurt more: A wristwatch dropped onto your foot from a height of three feet, or a 27-inch TV dropped onto your foot from a height of two inches?

      The amount of pain is a crude indicator of how much energy can be obtained.

    • why a backpack?
      why not use wrist- or ankle-mounted generators, which get a lot more movement, so presumably the generator could be a lot smaller and lighter?

      One word: Wires.

      O.K. I could see having rechargable batteries in each shoe would be handy, but boots are most likely to get muddy or under 1-2 ft of water while the rest of the body is in a fairly normal condition. (I wouldn't want batteries by my feet while wading across a shallow stream.)
  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:17AM (#13517523)
    be careful while jogging past another person wearing one with more negative electrons than yours. *ffffZZZZZZZOTTTT* *POOOOM* *smoke smoke*
  • by Ixne ( 599904 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:19AM (#13517533)
    What are the chances your average /. user can even heft said backpack? (images of futuristic schoolyard-bully style backpack swiping ensue)
    • I can't speak for the /average/ slashdotter, but I can carry a backpack that heavy (at least towards the low end... the 84 pound pack is quite far over 1/2 of my body weight). I've gone hiking with that much stuff. Remember -- more weight means more exercise! I assume, since I'm female and reasonably light for my height, there are quite a few people around here who can carry more, with the help of a good pack. Carrying weight in a well-constructed, well-adjusted, well-fitting backpack isn't the same sort of
  • The wags are already coming out about you can carry a lot of batteries and still have it weigh less than 20kg.

    I'd just like to point out that if you were working deep back country you are often carrying much more than 20kg in rock samples or camping gear or other equipment.

    If that's the case you get the recharging essentially for free.

    Although you could probably hook someting into a good laptop bag ...

  • If you are walking (Score:2, Informative)

    by loadquo ( 659316 )
    It is recommended [globalsecurity.org] that you don't carry more 40 to 55 pounds. In a combat situation anyway. And I don't see why this doesn't apply to backpackers. External frame backpacks can also be quite heavy, so it would be interesting to see how much the backpack+motor would cut into your weight allowance.
    • I'm not sure where you're getting your estimates of external frame pack weight. If you look at REI, the (men's) external-frame packs they sell (online, at least) run about 6 pounds. It's a good chunk of weight, but nothing too terrible. Internal frame packs can run a bit more, of course, but you gain some mobility.

      • As a former infantry man, I carried 35 lbs of; water (common load in the US is 1/2 gallon, in Iraq they carry 2 gallons), ammo(230 rounds 5.56 for M-16/ 600-1000 rounds for machineguns), compass, clothing (12 lbs), knives (bayonet pocket and leatherman) and other gear (the M-16 is 12.5 lbs) my combat stripped ruck (wet weather gear, cold weather gear, 3 days food / 1 change clothes and 3 pairs socks & underware) is 35 lbs, many troops are carring even higher weights (the radio operator carries a 35lb ra
  • What I'd be interested to know is how long of an extension cord you could get with 80 lbs.
  • Meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @08:49AM (#13517922)
    You may generate 7 watts but if you are storing that in a battery you won't get that much back out.

    It's a good idea though since a suspended load is going to be absorbing energy anyway (ie. the springy-ness), might as well use that to generate power.

    However, a lot more energy could be generated by absorbing the person's weight (plus anything they carry). For example, if you could store the energy absorbed by the padding of your shoes as you walked. Now that would be some power.
  • Sounds more like "Power *Stalking*" to me...
  • As an avid long-distance backpacker (AT [wikipedia.org] '03), I can tell you that 44-84 lbs ain't light. Without a hipbelt, your spine can only carry an additional amount of weight that is roughly equal to 25% of your total body weight. So for me, that's around 40 lbs. That's maximum, and I'm telling you, even with a hipbelt to help distribute the load to my hips, that weight can grow to be quite uncomfortable over the course of a day. Without a hipbelt, we're talking about a painful weight, and 84 pounds is simply cru
  • by ddkilzer ( 79953 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @10:49AM (#13518707)
    ...you will be assimilated! Wait, don't run! We cannot keep up with you!
  • Is it just me, or does the description given by the inventors of the device's operation sound hilarious?

    When walking, the body is like an inverted pendulum. After the foot is put down to take a step, the body vaults over it, causing the hip to move up and down about 1.6 to 2.7 inches (4 to 7 cm). The Suspended-load Backpack frame sits still on the wearer's back, and the load is mounted on a load plate that is suspended from the frame by springs. The springs allow the load to slide up and down on bushings co
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @12:42PM (#13519780)

    It took a while but I finally found a picture of it [allplush.com]. It doesn't look too bad, and actually does look eco-friendly.
  • running would generate even more energy.

    Some spring assisted footwear could generate both impressive running speeds and considerable energy with this device.

    If the footwear had heel activated absorbtion and toe activated release, the power could be used to assist toe push effort, and increase speed/effort ratio.
  • This works the same as the shake to charge flashlights advertised on TV, and shaking the magnet in the inductor does take energy.

    A few months ago, I read about a piezo device in a walker's shoe that generated electricity, and probably was more efficient, although it probably did not change the gait to use less energy as the article claims is done by the backpack device.

  • The scientists discovered that the Suspended-load Backpack altered the gait of the test wearers, causing them to walk more efficiently.
    I can just imagine the look on the test subjects faces when they're told that the bouncing spring/weight contraption on their back was making them "walk more efficiently" than that plain old fashioned method that was developed through millions of years of evolution.
  • Meh, it's been done. [mcpeepants.com]
  • So it looks like we won't be in vats when the computers take over, but walking around in circles with backpacks on.

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