Prediction: Energy From Thin Air

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Prediction: Startups Will Commercialize Better Ways to Produce Energy From Thin Air

Status: Occurring

Innovation Opportunities

Invisible Power is everywhere. We are bombarded by more than just sunlight. All movement could, in theory, be harnessed—wind, ocean waves, wireless signals, human motion, static electricity, moving water in plumbing, a chatty neighbor, you name it. Some of these things are already being turned into power. Intel is working on tiny, wearable sensors that can capture energy from body heat and sunlight. This gives a whole new meaning to the words “power tie.”

Simon Fraser University in Vancouver developed a way to capture energy from human movement, specifically walking. This technology could reduce the size and weight of batteries that soldiers or emergency workers carry. The Canadian military signed on as the first client. (Perhaps they will power the Celine Dion radio each soldier is required to carry.) Sweden’s Jernhusen designed a system of vents and sensors to capture surplus body heat from commuters at a high-traffic train station to warm a nearby office building, reducing energy costs by 25 percent.

Econovation, 2011, p117

What Happened

This router can power your devices wirelessly from 15 feet away, Jan 2015

Freevolt generates power from thin air, Sep 2015

First battery-free cellphone makes calls by harvesting ambient power, Jul 2017

Caltech’s 2500 Orbiting Solar Panels Could Provide Earth With Limitless Energy, Apr 2016

It is now practical to refuel electric vehicles through thin air, Oct 2017

IoT drives progress towards low-power technology- Wake-up receivers, energy-harvesting offer electricity for billions of ‘smart’ things, Jan 2018

Flexible fabric harvests electricity from subway tunnels, Mar 2018

Gyms where people generate clean energy Working out with this special equipment is great for you AND our planet. (Jun 2018)

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Provocative predictions & prescriptions on where innovation, economics & culture will take us. Fearless. Funny.