Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured, and such human activities as walking, jogging and bicycling could soon be used to power homes, offices and cities, according to IBM.
The computer giant has listed “people power” as one of its 2011 “5 in 5” – an annual list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.
IBM lists such potential innovations as a battery charger attached to the wheel of a bicycle (pictured) that harnesses energy created from the wheels turning as one example of how such technology could work.
Research into the capture of wasted energy has been a growing trend in renewable energy circles for some time now, but it is usually associated with harnessing untapped power in machines – such as in motorized vehicles’ braking systems – rather than human-generated energy.
The other four, less environment-focused innovations named in this year’s 5 for 5 are passwords for ATM machines and computer programs based on our genetic makeup, using brainpower to directly control technology, the end of the technology divide between rich and poor countries and the death of junk spam email.