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A jacket to keep you warm and powered

A jacket to keep you warm and powered

Hopefully electrojackets will be in style soon.

Keeping mobile devices charged on the go is an ongoing problem that has spawned many solutions. Some are fairly logical, like Energizer’s portable battery packs designed to charge common mobile devices, and some are a little more out there, like this nifty device that charges USB devices using the expanding of the chest.

However, Australia has just authorized a $4.4 million Australian dollar grant to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), their national science agency, to develop a jacket capable of using the body’s kinetic energy to power portable devices. The basic premise of the jacket involves two sections: a section over the shoulders containing the power generation portion of the unit, and thin, flexible batteries placed through the front and back of the jacket to store the charge.

The generation portion uses what are called Piezoelectric materials to transform kinetic energy into storable power. Piezoelectric molecules work in this basic fashion: the piezoelectric-capable material, usually types of crystals, creates electricity when it is compressed. This material is used in a variety of ways, including electric lighters and electric music devices. In the jacket, the piezoelectric sections in the shoulder of the unit will provide voltage that is then stored in the batteries integrated into the jacket. Then, via any required type of jack or connector, devices can be hooked up to and run from the batteries on the jacket.

As of now the intended market for this device, and one of the reasons the Australian government has approved the grant, is for military personnel. Enabling them to power devices that generally required cumbersome battery packs by simply moving could allow soldiers to lighten their load, or allow them to carry more equipment to aid in defense or reconnaissance. However, commercial applications are obviously highly anticipated as well, as more and more people begin to rely on mobile phones or media players.

Another market that doesn’t appear to be considered right now is the medical field – patients undergoing chemotherapy using portable devices may benefit from smaller therapy units if the battery packs are able to be moved to a garment. Diabetics who rely on insulin-testing devices could also potentially benefit from such advancements.

The two deciding factors here appear to be how much power can be generated and stored, and how weight will be affected. See what other people think in our forums.

21 Comments

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Redbeaver 7th November 2007, 15:28 Quote
very interesting. but i couldve sworn ive seen the idea somewhere else...
Hells_Bliss 7th November 2007, 15:37 Quote
Drill Sergeant: Alrighty you numb-nuts, PT time! my iPod needs a charge :p
chrisb2e9 7th November 2007, 16:25 Quote
sounds like a good idea to me. I really like the idea of being able to put some kind of heating element in there. Working in -40 degree weather last year for 8 hours at a time without anywhere to go to warm up was not fun.
Coul also have commerical applications as well, line a boat with the stuff, and as the boad rides the waves some kind of rollar moves over the material compressing it to generate power.
I understand that its not a lot of power, but with all things it will get better with time.
UncertainGod 7th November 2007, 16:59 Quote
chrisb2e9 7th November 2007, 17:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncertainGod
http://knilram.org/img/blog/2005.12.06.morpheus.jpg

So it begins....

Bah Ha Ha!!
I never even thought of that. as long as we control them and not the other way around.
benjamyn 7th November 2007, 17:47 Quote
Warning: Not suitable in the rain ;)
Jamie 7th November 2007, 18:52 Quote
My portable devices would all be flat if I had one of these. I don't produce much kinetic energy sitting on my ass.
cyrilthefish 7th November 2007, 19:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisb2e9
sounds like a good idea to me. I really like the idea of being able to put some kind of heating element in there.
Oh wow! i want one :D

I'm the sort of person that has been described by others as: "could freeze to death in a volcano"
I've been known to wear two pairs of trousers and two jumpers to work in the coldest parts of the winter
righteous_slave 7th November 2007, 19:35 Quote
Hopefully it will be a bit more fashionable when it hits the shelves. :) Looks like a Kevlar vest right now.
DXR_13KE 7th November 2007, 20:00 Quote
i think this is lame..... there are better ways.... some guys invented a way to make a painted insulator that creates electricity from a temperature difference.... and some guys that created solar panels in the form of paint that can get like 30% efficiency and works with infrared... just apply these to your clothes and you don't have to move at all.
zr_ox 7th November 2007, 23:15 Quote
I wish companies would stop advertising things like this until it works, and the clothes dont look like something from the Thunderbirds.
The_Beast 7th November 2007, 23:17 Quote
couldn't they make a jacket that works off you own body heat
Ramble 7th November 2007, 23:29 Quote
That would be useful. I walk a lot and it'd be nice to charge up ma phone so I could keep bluetooth on all the time.
konsta 8th November 2007, 02:14 Quote
In the same way as you would struggle to run an electric blanket off a mobile phone battery, so will you struggle to make a heated jacket from a mobile phone charger. Piezo-electric is a small effect from natural sources - it can't easily be made dramatically more effective.
chrisb2e9 8th November 2007, 02:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by konsta
In the same way as you would struggle to run an electric blanket off a mobile phone battery, so will you struggle to make a heated jacket from a mobile phone charger. Piezo-electric is a small effect from natural sources - it can't easily be made dramatically more effective.

of course it will take a while, look how long computers have existed, its taken a long time to get to where we are today. If people invest money in it, it will get better over time.
But my point was, that when it hits -40, having something like this that plugs into your socks, even if its just a little bit of heat, would make a world of difference. or maybe something that pluges into gloves to keep your fingers warm. I dont want something that would make you want to walk around in a t-shirt, just something to help.
legoman666 8th November 2007, 05:57 Quote
austrailia has an army?

heh, ill take 1.
DeXtmL 8th November 2007, 06:23 Quote
The next step is to make it to transform more kinetic energy into electric form.
I hope it can charge my notebook in the future.
Ryu_ookami 8th November 2007, 07:25 Quote
wait til it gets a slight tear and then it starts to rain hehehehehe
notatoad 8th November 2007, 07:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
My portable devices would all be flat if I had one of these. I don't produce much kinetic energy sitting on my ass.

but if you're sitting on your ass, what do you need portable devices for?
Ryu_ookami 8th November 2007, 07:58 Quote
It depends what the devices are, doesn't it?

lol
kosch 8th November 2007, 14:26 Quote
I want an evil emperor lighting bolt mod for my jacket please!
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