Those Legendary Personal Generators: Can We Really Recharge While We Exercise?

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Nokia recently announced a phone charger that gives energy to your phone while you bicycle. You pop your phone in, pedal along, and the energy created can recharge your phone (somewhat).

This is a great idea, and as soon as I read about it, I started thinking about the other ways we’ve introduced gadgets — often quite battery-intensive ones — into our exercise routines. Is there a green solution waiting in the wings here?

 

iPhones and RunKeeper

Take a look at RunKeeper. It’s a pretty beloved iPhone (and Android) application, letting thousands of runners keep track of their routes via GPS, their calories burned, pace, distance traveled, and pumping a nice, motivating voice into the ear of every exercising person about to give up.

Just like the [Nike+] [nike] system, it’s a way to introduce metrics to exercise without overly complicating the should-be-simple act of going out for a jog.

 

GPS and Battery

But one of the problems is battery consumption — iPhones use assisted GPS technology, which relies on nearby WiFi stations plus cellular (3G) reception, plus a GPS chip, all of which drains the battery on a phone quite nicely. When you’re listening to music and using all of these antennae at once, it can be tough to rely on keeping RunKeeper going for, say, a very long bike trip or a big marathon.

But those are exceptions to the rule — the main issue is really the inefficiency of wearing down our consumer devices when we’re outside, exercising, using and theoretically creating energy to keep in shape.

This explains the concept behind Nokia’s charger, and I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time before a system is finally generated that can charge our devices in an easy way.

 

Personal Charging — A Generator On Your Knee?

There was some media buzz about a knee-based charger a couple years back, and it’s this kind of technology that we could eventually see on the commercial market.

One theoretical problem, though, is that wearing a knee-based generator to power your iPhone 4, attached to your arm with a strap, along with a pair of headphones going up to your ears — it might make you feel a little bit, well… bionic.

One of the big issues about “personal power generation” is that while it’s good enough to power devices, storage is difficult, as batteries need to be carried that negate the entire point of the venture.

However, if you simply pop on a knee brace that can somehow generate enough power to keep your iPhone from crying for a wall socket as soon as you get back from your jog — it might make a nice little difference.