Scientists at the School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS), University of Southampton, UK, have created a tiny generator less than one cubic centimeter in size that converts vibrations to electrical energy. Power is generated from the wobbling of a magnet (due to surrounding vibrations), suspended via a cantilever. The device could be ideal for powering wireless sensors.
Though this power generation is only in micro watts, the BBC report suggests that it is sufficient to power sensors that are used in scenarios where replacing batteries can be a major issue. In the near future, the tiny generators could be used in sensors residing in pacemakers and also used for monitoring the health of structures such as bridges, dams, and roads.
The project was funded by the EU as part of its Vibration Energy Scavenging Project (Vibes).
A quote from article @ TechnologyNewsDaily:
Vibration energy harvesting is receiving a considerable amount of interest as a means for powering wireless sensor nodes,' said Dr Beeby, head of the team that developed the generator. 'The big advantage of wireless sensor systems is that by removing wires and batteries, there is the potential for embedding sensors in previously inaccessible locations.'
With the exponential rate of IC miniaturizations, projects like these will go a long way into addressing mechanisms for wireless devices to generate and sustain power. These are wireless devices in the truest sense!