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Here’s hoping for ‘people power’ used for energy

IBM ( recently released its “5in5” (, a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

Of course, you have to take lists like this (including mine, which are coming next week) with a grain of salt. After all, I’m still waiting for my flying care — and have been since I was a kid.

That said, I hope that IBM is correct in predicting that “people power will come to life.” Here’s how IBM sees it:

“Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured. Walking. Jogging. Bicycling. The heat from your computer. Even the water flowing through your pipes.

“Advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy, which now goes to waste, and use it to help power our homes, offices and cities.

“Imagine attaching small devices to the spokes on your bicycle wheels that recharge batteries as you pedal along. You will have the satisfaction of not only getting to where you want to go, but at the same time powering some of the lights in your home.

“Created energy comes in all shapes and forms and from anything around us. IBM scientists in Ireland are looking at ways to understand and minimize the environmental impact of converting ocean wave energy into electricity.”

There’s a lot of potential in this idea. For example, I’m an avid runner, totaling about 36 miles per week. It would be great if I could strap a battery pack around my waist and generate power to use around the house when I get back from my run.

Of course, that scenario is a little far-fetched, though if we could harness all the energy of runners and walkers worldwide, that would be incredible. But attaching such packs to bikes and other devices seems feasible.

Heck, in our couch potato world, if we could capture the smidgen of energy used every time someone presses a remote, I suspect we could run the whole US on the power.

— Dennis Sellers

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