With potential laptops powered by typing and watches powered by moving one’s arm, energy harvesting is a growing field with a number of cool products. In Japan, Murata Manufacturing is firmly on board the trend with sensors to detect and convert vibration, temperature gradient, ambient heat, and light into small amounts of electricity. Their most recent offering uses a variety of sensors in combination with a flexible plate to send several different signals without the need for batteries.
The heart of Murata’s new idea is its new flexible film at the center and its combination with both sensors and a wireless transmitter. The movement of the flexible plate triggers the sensors at the edge, which use the energy harvested from the motion to send a signal. Which signal is sent depends on how the plate was manipulated – bent, twisted, shaken, etc.
While there are a number of uses for the plate, Murata has incorporated it into the common and widespread TV remote control to showcase its versatility. Bending the plate slowly changes the volume, while bending it quickly (or taking it by one end and shaking it) sends a signal to turn the TV on or off. Twisting the plate changes the channel, and twisting it quickly changes the input source.
Murata Manufacturing hopes to use its new combination of no-battery energy harvesting, sensors, and wireless transmission to provide products in a number of fields. The company will present the many uses of energy harvesting and their practical applications at the Cutting Edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition (CEATEC JAPAN 2011) at the Makuhari Messe International Convention Center in Chiba from October 4th to October 8th.
Charis Michelsen spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissin, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.