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Researchers create a headset to turn your jaw into a tiny power plant

Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
September 22, 2014
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We're no strangers to projects that try to capture the power of the human body, but here's one with a peculiar twist. A pair of researchers from Montreal's École de Technologie Supérieure have cooked up a headset that, while extremely goofy-looking, can harness the power of your mighty jaw muscles while you chew, gab on the phone and stress-grind your teeth into a fine powder.

The secret sauce here are piezoelectric fibers, strands of material that basically convert physical motion into electricity. Those fibers have been fashioned into a chin strap and are lashed to either sides of a pair of earmuffs, and as your mouth moves, the fibers streeeetch and generate power in the process. Alas, the total amount of juice your face will generate comes out to a whopping 10 microwatts a minute -- to put that into perspective, that's just a fraction of a fraction of the amount needed to use a bog-standard flashlight. If we're being honest, it's not like the theoretical maximum is all that lofty either. Assuming a totally pure conversation of the mechanical energy your molars make into electricity, we're looking at 7 milliwatts, tops. Here's the thing to remember, though: piezoelectric fibers aren't exactly new, but scientists almost certainly haven't finished pushing the envelope. This insane-looking contraption might not be terribly useful, but hey -- there's always the chance that it's similarly awkward progeny might wind up charging our phones while we talk on them.

In this article: body, human, piezoelectric, power, research, science
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