This should take those smarmy robots down a notch. Prototype robotic muscles--you know, the kinds that can actually store up energy from motion and use that juice to power the robot--are about to be outdone by our own heartbeats. Researchers working with nanogenerators have recently been able to up the capacity of their microscopic power providers to 3 volts, enough to charge an electronic device.
These nanogenerators are so tiny that within a decade we could theoretically implant them in our own bodies, using kinetic energy--from a heartbeat, perhaps--to power our technology.
Until now, nanogenerators have hardly produced the amount of power necessary to power much of anything. Recent developments have expanded the power capacities by a factor of thousands, bringing these nanogenerators far closer to being a viable energy source. Zinc oxide nanowires are responsible for producing electricity; when flexed, they generate a current. 500 wires are small enough to fit into a human hair--small enough to be implanted in the human body, even.
Anything that put the nanowires into motion could theoretically power the nanogenerators, so the flex of a hand or a step in a generator-equipped shoe could build up a charge in a capacitor eventually transmitted wirelessly to an electronic device.
Within 3-5 years the nanogenerators will hopefully be able to power small environmental sensors. After that...who knows? Would you be willing to install a stack of these in your body if it could keep your phone eternally charged? Ideally, it won’t involve the installation of a bio-port.