A Quantitative Investigation of Inertial Power Harvesting for Human-powered Devices

Jaeseok Yun, Shwetak Patel, Matt Reynolds, Gregory Abowd


We present an empirical study of the long-term practicality of using human motion to generate operating power for body-mounted consumer electronics and health sensors. We have collected a large continuous acceleration dataset from eight experimental subjects going about their normal daily routine for 3 days each. Each subject is instrumented with a data collection apparatus that simultaneously logs 3-axis, 80Hz acceleration data from six body locations. We use this dataset to optimize a first-principles physical model of the commonly used velocity damped resonant generator (VDRG) by selecting physical parameters such as resonant frequency and damping coefficient to maximize harvested power. Our results show that with reasonable assumptions on size, mass, placement, and efficiency of VDRG harvesters, most body-mounted wireless sensors and even some consumer electronics devices, may be powered continuously and indefinitely from everyday motion.