Picopower and Getting Off the Grid

Good piece on picopower in Smaller Times. Particularly interesting is a section about mid-way down concerning research being done  by recent U.C. Berkeley doctoral grad, Shad Roundy:

“…Shad Roundy, with professors Paul K. Wright and Jan Rabaey, is seeking out power for picoradios, single-chip self-networking wireless transceivers that could, among a multitude of other things, monitor an office building’s environment to actively control energy use.

…Roundy decided to draw power from the building itself, not so unlike a self-winding wristwatch. Vibrations are all around us, he says. Sometimes we notice them when a truck passes, for instance, and our windows shake. Most often we don’t notice the hum of computer monitors, the continuous shudder of heating and cooling ducts.

For his doctoral thesis, Roundy is examining two mechanisms for converting low-level vibrations into electricity that’s stored as needed.”