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auto-recharging laptop

Generate power from keypresses
  (+11, -3)(+11, -3)
(+11, -3)
  [vote for,

Use a clever system of tiny little electromagnets, pulleys, or air cushions to drive a tiny little generator that both provides desired resistance to the human user and converts some of the applied force into electricity.

Each key press recharges the laptop battery a little more. They're small, but they're many, and as chip energy consumption goes down and screens get better, the energy gained from keypresses might eventually exceed (or at least significantly amend) the energy consumed.

(For long presentations, a crank can be provided as well.)

jutta, Jun 27 2000

Windup laptop http://www.windupradio.com/apple.htm
The hand crank part is (almost) here already... [egnor, Jun 27 2000]

Slashdot: Compaq patented this idea in 1999. http://slashdot.org...07/12/1539226.shtml
Longish thread on similar devices... [jutta, Jun 27 2000]

Typing Power http://164.195.100....529&RS=PN/5,911,529
The actual patent in question. [jutta, Jun 27 2000]


       A decent idea...shouldn't be too hard to make piezoelectric crystals under the keys feed into the batteries...I once had a 'keyboard odometer' hooked to mine and in three hours on a muck and newsgroups, had hit more than 30 thousand keys...As you say, small, but many.
StarChaser, Jun 27 2000

       I like this. Clockwork laptops for the desert blue collar worker. I'm sure all those magnets will weigh a ton though. My laptop is very light, I wouldn't want to buy a heavy one at all. Solar powered, now there's a thought...
ponda_baba, Jun 27 2000

       That's a great idea! I don't own a laptop, but I see people with them all the time---at airports, in coffee bars, standing in line at the bank---and they just pound away at those little keys. I've looked over their shoulders and seen some of the stuff they're doing, too, and none of it is very important---certainly not in relation to the energy they're expending. Therefore, it's just common sense that there's a tremendous energy surplus there. Heck, I bet we could equip laptops with microwave links and beam all that excess energy to collection facilities for redistribution. We could even give the laptop-people a bunch of extra, even more-important-looking assignments to keep them pounding away.
Ander, Jun 28 2000

       Of course, this will increase the resistance of each keystroke, which might lead to increased repetive-stress injuries if it's too strong.
bookworm, Jul 04 2000

       With the piezo crystal one, no need to increase the resistance. Make the contact at the bottom of the keystroke of the crystal, in part or whole. Key goes down, 'bzzt', key goes up.
StarChaser, Jul 04 2000

       Unfortunately, second law of thermodynamics sez you can't get something for nothing. You will need resistance of some sort to generate power of some sort. Piezo crystals generate nice voltages, however with near zero current, which means near zero power. Another half-baked approach: run a tiny flywheel-generator with a system of ratchets that engage on each key downstroke. Something similar is used in the Seiko quartz watch powered by wrist motion.
rmutt, Aug 22 2000

       ponda baba: I remember reading on his site (bonington.com) that Sir Chris Bonington used a tiny solar panel for powering his laptop when he was out climbing, but I can't find the link or remember what make he used.
Anyway, portable solar panels are available, but I agree it would be nice to have them built in to the lid of the laptop so it'd be constantly recharging.
Jim, Aug 23 2000

       How about (this would be especially good for old-timers) a lever with a spring which pushes it to the left and some gearing so that it powers a generator. Then every line of typing, you just push the lever back to the right to recharge the spring (much as with the escapement on a manual typewriter).   

       Somewhat related idea: how about designing a cell-phone (or laptop) with a wind-up generator like you see on those FreePlay radios? Then even if your battery went kaput in an emergency you could still get in either a distress call or another game of FreeCell.
supercat, Aug 23 2000

       A modern computer keyboard's so much easier to type on than a manual typewriter, and people used them all day long. With practice, a user could generate strong wrists to produce a considerable amount pressure and energy.
pottedstu, Sep 18 2001

       Maybe mouse movement could also be included if they use a plug in mouse
eddidaz, Apr 08 2002

       I learned to type on a manual typewriter that badly needed cleaning, so I've got a very heavy hand when typing. I've worn out four keyboards in eight years...
StarChaser, Apr 08 2002


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