In thinking about motion sensing and power calculation for our wildlife observation class, I’ve been researching kinetic energy harvesting and motion sensing monitoring innovations emerging in the marketplace.

In the field of kinetic energy harvesting, I’ve been looking into harvesting energy from raw piezo vibrations. This method has been explored since the mid-1990’s and essentially converts vibrations into usable electrical energy. I was wondering if we could create a small energy harvesting module that would fit on a monkey’s collar and would vibrate every time the monkey’s collar flapped or knocked against its body. This energy could be stored and used to power a GPS unit on the collar, or some other power hungry device.

I found the nPower PEG that harvests energy from human body movements and recharges a lithium polymer battery. I would like to know if it’s possible to make something like this that could be encased in a collar tubing around a monkey’s neck or leg. The product’s website says “The PEG is a product from kinetic energy harvesting specialist Tremont Electric and the nPower┬« technology is scalable both up and down in size.” I wonder how small.

In the field of motion sensing and accelerometry, I was taken by Under Armour’s latest innovation called “the bug” which is a removable sensor embedded in a performance tee, equipped with a triaxial accelerometer, processor, and 2GB of storage flanked by additional monitors that measure the wearer’s heart rate and breathing. It’s a system provided by Zephyr that analyzes an athlete’s individual movements and biometric data to help identify performance issues like when the body is moving out of sync thereby slowing down an athlete’s linear speed. Scouts, coaches, and trainers can collect the data over Bluetooth from smartphones, tablets, or PCs to measure and potentially improve performance.

This is an interesting possibility for body movement monitoring, although I wonder how long the battery life lasts?

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