Fascinating article over at Engadget today. It seems the East Japan Railway Company is testing a prototype mechanisim that will turn their daily commuters in to human power generators. (eek! It’s The Matrix!)
They are experimenting with ticket gates that turn the kinetic energy of weight and vibration in to power as people pass through the gates. As the people walk through, the power will be sent to storage batteries and will reduce the amount of energy JR East uses from the power grid. This will make them a greener and more cost effective company. If you think of the staggering number of people that pass through the train stations each day, Shinjuku station alone handles 1.5 million per day, that is a heck of a lot of energy to be harnassed.
For now, the power is just lighting up a light bulb to prove it works, but the possabilities of this technology are staggering.