TED Conversations

Skylar Nitesh

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Could you be the key to solving the energy crisis?

As humans we are literally powerful beings. Could we design a future where our bodies become a source of electrical power of which to drive our technology? Can we design car seats, steering wheels, floor boards ect to capture any spent or wasted energy produced by our bodies through heat, movement, friction, electrostatic charge and so on? Could it then be incorporated into the various public transportation systems of the world? What about clothing designed to power mobile devices on the go and contribute to the grid when at rest? What about our homes and office builds? Think about the potential of public gathering places. The gym would be a good start. We could even develop a monetary compensation program to encourage people to get and stay fit which would in turn help with obesity and poverty. Not to mention the cost savings of a home gym which could supplement your electric bill. Are we walking talking power plants? I believe the human element is underutilized and often overlooked. If we wish to empower ourselves both as individuals and as a community through technology shouldn't we also be willing to power it both as individuals and as a community? What are your thoughts?

  • Sep 8 2011: I just watched Brian Cox's: Why we need the explorers talk, and I think that there is major value in government funding for this type of innovation. Unfortunately, there is somewhat of a double edged sword for politicians and oil companies here in the states because oil and natural gas companies have economic motivation not to promote alternative energy sources. Because there are so many close ties between the U.S. government at oil companies through lobbying and government officials moving from the oil and natural gas industry into government, the best interest of the people and environment are not always taken into consideration.

    That being said, additional funding in the academic research community could make a big difference in progressing these technologies. Especially if we allow these people to take their skills from publicly funded research and create their own companies, I think we could definitely get much closer to these goals. However, be on the lookout for oil and natural gas companies to buy out these companies and immediately shut them down as their pocketbooks are massive.
    • Sep 8 2011: The government is run by special interest groups and corporations. It is going to be private investors and public pressure that will make the difference. Thank you for your insight.
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    Aug 8 2011: Another option is to take a look into the community and and government programs and initiatives which exist in your area and find ways to get involved either financially (if time is your most scarce asset) or hands on (if money is more scarce).

    Many of the problems which have found their way into our modern life are solveable if the microeconomic climate is right. Watch TED talks like 'The Shareable City' or 'How food shapes our cities' and think of how you could either start a movement or where you should look to find those most valuable movements already under way.

    Locally in Canadian province of Ontario there is a program for supporting locally produced green energy known as the 'FIT' program (Feed in Tariff) whereby the government agrees to pay a fixed premium for energy produced in ecologically friendly ways. By providing that guarantee many companies like Grasshopper Solar or Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op have been able to lower the cost of entry for anyone wishing to start generating power (and other benefits) with waste land and otherwise underutilized spaces.

    It's not just about the 'human power-plant'. Another vastly underutilized resource is human creativity, time and effort.
    • Aug 8 2011: Creativity is part of the human element. Solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, ect. would also be a part of this overall system, but rely heavily on environmental conditions such as geography, weather, time of day/year. This type of power supplement could be a more universal, portable on demand way of looking at energy, but I understand that collaboration of different power sources is needed to power the whole. I fear that this kind of power generation isn't getting the attention it deserves and may be one of the many determining factors of weather we make it or not as a species. This power can be generated in oceans, deserts, inside or outdoors, while sleeping or awake, at rest or in motion, even in the vacuum of space if harvested and stored properly. I recommend looking at biological systems that could be synthesized and or altered to work in tandem with our bodies.