By David Ponce
A backpack that recharges your gadgets, and it’s not solar powered?
If you’re the kind of person that goes backpacking a lot, and tend to carry your life around with you, this could be ideal. A team of biologists at the University of Pennsylvania have announced the development of a new kind of backpack that generates electricity by using, well, your own motion.
The Suspended-Load Backpack is based on a rigid frame pack, much like the type familiar to hikers everywhere; however, rather than being rigidly attached to the frame, the sack carrying the load is suspended from the frame by vertically oriented springs. It is the vertical movement of the backpack contents that provides the mechanical energy to drive a small generator mounted on the frame.
The Penn researchers tested packs with loads of 40 to 80 pounds and found that the wearer could constantly generate as much as 7.4 Watts while moving at a steady clip. Typically, cell phones or even night vision goggles require less than one Watt to power.
The applications for something like this are tremendous. Think of soldiers that already carry backpacks of up to 80lbs, at least a portion of which are batteries for the various electronic equipment they use. With this, they could dispense with the extra batteries and become at least that much more efficient.