Self-Powered: Speculating the Future of Energy-Harvesting Wearables
Taking a cue from both our current obsession with wearables and an increasing anxiety about the future of energy, industrial designer Naomi Kizhner imagined devices that would harvest energy from our own bodies. For her final project, Energy Addicts, at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Academic College Kizhner created a theoretical line of wearables that would store the energy produced by blinks, blood flow, and synaptic pulses from the brain. A video shows how these devices might be used in a fictive, vaguely apocalyptic near future. In one scene, a woman puffs vigorously on a cigarette to raise her blood pressure as a wrist-mounted gadget containing a hydraulic turbine of gold—one of the best conductors—powers what appears to be a ubiquitous energy grid. “I wanted the project to provoke a debate,” Kizhner says. “Technically, there are developments today that can make these devices real, but theoretically speaking, I don’t know if we’re willing to sacrifice our bodies this way to make energy. It kind of dehumanizes us—it uses the body as a vessel.” On the other hand, the notion that we might all contribute—literally and viscerally—to our global energy store appears as a powerful and moving alternative to our current state, in which those who reap the benefits of energy are often not those tasked with creating it.