There have certainly been gizmos to surface throughout the years that react in some form or fashion to rain, but Jean-Jacques Chaillout and colleagues at the Atomic Energy Commission in France are fantasizing about using those diminutive droplets of water to actually power useful creations. After using computer models to find out just how much energy could be created by rainfall landing on piezoelectric materials, they determined that between 1 nanojoule and 25 microjoules of energy could be generated per drop. Granted, that won't keep a WoW gamer crankin' through the eve, but it could be used in everyday sensors that just need a smidgen of power in order to beam back results or data to ground control (or Major Tom). So yeah, these may not work so well in Death Valley, but we hear Amazonia could really benefit.
[Via NewScientist, image courtesy of ABC]