Forget solar energy: This weekend Vodafone will debut its new charger, which is made out of flexible thermocouple-based fabric and a plug. The charger comes in two forms: shorts pocket and sleeping bag.
Participants attending this weekend’s Isle of Wight festival whose phones are running low on charge might want to visit the Vodafone tent, where they can try out a charging station that works with their own body heat. The Power Pocket Charger is basically a shorts pocket that’s made out of flexible thermocouples — pairs of thermoelectric material — and a plug for the phone. There’s also a sleeping bag made of the material, which provides “24 minutes of talk time and 11 hours of standby time” after a person spends eight hours in it.
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What’s the Big Idea?
The material, which was developed by scientists at the University of Southampton, operates on the difference in temperature between the inside and outside layers of the pocket or sleeping bag. Southampton professor Stephen Beeby says, “One side of that is cold and the other is hot, and when you get a flow of heat through it you can create a voltage and a current. Voltage and current together equals electrical power.” Walking around the festival in a pair of Power Pocket Charger-equipped shorts should be enough to keep a phone going a little while longer.
Researchers at MIT modeled the inside of a bone and used software to create a design that could be read by a 3D printer. The resulting lightweight composite could be used in several different applications.