back to article Powering the Internet of Stuff – by sucking electricity from TREES

Despite regular headlines about self-powered gadgets and a deluge of stories claiming that any day now we should expect our smart phones to start gathering power from the environment around us, the promise of harvested energy always seems just out of reach. Or is it? We may not be charging our gadgets in our Wellington boots …

  1. Adam 1 Silver badge

    >The nature of a circle means that adding 1cm to a 2m turbine blade increases the catchable wind by almost half (4.52sq m compared to 3.14), while removing 1cm reduces the harvested wind by half a square metre

    Not the circles I am picturing...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So, "adding 1cm to a 2m turbine" becomes

        "Adding 20 cm to a 1m turbine blade" ... increases the catchable wind by almost half.

        That's a lot of corrections to get it right.

  2. tony2heads

    Human mechanical power

    What about using the power of us hammering out our frustration when they don't work?

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    Energy from a nail in a tree

    I'm sure that a small array of cheap solar cells, no matter how dusty and dirty they became, would put out more power than the tree would.

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

      Not so if the trees decide to do what trees do and leave.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Graham 24

          Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

          Tree puns are a real beech. I willow you a beer if you stop, oak-ay? Yew know you're only trying to make yourself poplar with everyone. So fir goodness sake, spruce yourself up and cedar whole thing from my point of view.

          1. Professor Clifton Shallot

            Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

            Well I wood but I am not holly certain a beer is enough. Th row an order of chips in and it's a deal - I'm a hog any way you look at it.

            1. VinceH Silver badge

              Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

              Please don't branch out from your current day jobs into comedy.

              1. Hero Protagonist

                Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

                You're all a bunch of saps.

    2. oldcoder

      Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

      Using pH? that makes it a battery. And the type of nail can cause damage to the tree.

      More likely the power would be from the static differential between the ground and how high the wire goes... very much like a lightning rod.

      Which reminds me of an old technology - put an array of lightning rods on a roof, with a suitable ground, and you can extract about .25 horsepower using an electrostatic motor.

      You DO really really NEED a lightning arrest spark gap just in case the array gets hit by lightning... :)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Suricou Raven

        Re: Energy from a nail in a tree

        The power output is highly variable depending upon weather though.

  4. Rol Silver badge

    Sleeping Policeman?

    I live in Bristol where the local council has been working tirelessly to turn traffic management into a parking issue. They believe that by making cars go really slow they can get to the point traffic is practically classed as parked and therefore perfectly managed.

    With that in mind, a sleeping policeman with an hydraulically affected piezoelectric module could see Bristol supplying 95% of the Uk's power needs, whilst still continuing the council's policy of slapping the motorist around the head with a wet fish.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Sleeping Policeman?

      "I live in Bristol where the local council has been working tirelessly to turn traffic management into a parking issue. They believe that by making cars go really slow they can get to the point traffic is practically classed as parked and therefore perfectly managed can be fined for being parked illegally."


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That does get easier every year as semiconductor technology improves and power consumption drops."

    That's not strictly true. "Improvements" in semiconductor technology over the years has not lead directly to lower power devices.

    The amount of additional techniques that had to be applied to circuits (Multi-voltage, power switching etc) specifically due to the high leakage of certain technology nodes needed a massive investment and changes in design approach.

    Recently mitigated by introduction of FinFET style transistors but never-the-less still meaning that power needs to be managed, not just by transitioning from one node to the next.

  6. Anonymous Blowhard


    Looks like the IoT is splitting into two strands: "The Internet of Useful Things" such as the vibration sensors mentioned in the article and other stuff that's just intended to monetise information generated by people (AKA advertising); I hereby christen this the "Internet of Shit" as we'll be drowning in it soon.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: IoS?

      @Mr Blowhard - Actually you can note very easily the difference between "Internet of Useful Things" and the "Internet of Shit":

      The "Internet of Useful Things" is NOT really an internet, more like a domain-specific Intranet that has no reason to be connected to the rest of the Internet.

      The "Internet of Shit" is connected to the rest of the Internet even when there is no need for it (beyond data-slurping, snooping and ad-generation)

      1. nsld

        Re: IoS?

        The "Internet of Shit"


        Or as we prefer to call it, "Fox News"


        1. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: IoS?

          I preferred Sniff Petrol's description of Fox News as "factphobic American broadcast anus":

  7. Timmy B Silver badge

    If only...

    ...there was another way to get light from a candle other than spending £50 for another pointless gadget. It's even more amusing that the makers market it as a green solution! Get a UCO lantern; costs half as much, will never break down and provides light for twice as long on one candle!


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If only...

      Not the same product, but this tea candle lantern


      claims that the light equivalent of 18 teacandles is provided by one such candle.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: If only...

        Candles work the same way as incandescent bulbs - they're just low temperature black-body radiators, with the vast majority of the energy being infra-red. Candles are quite a bit cooler than most bulb filaments, so they're even less efficient at producing visible light. With bulbs only around 2% efficient to start with, that leaves candles giving off something close to 99% of their energy as heat. You don't even need a very efficient waste heat gathering process for it to be far more useful than just using the raw candle for light.

  8. TitterYeNot

    My mother-in-law's so...

    That picture of the Awesense sensor reminds me of the clothes pegs my mother-in-law uses to hang her knickers out to dry on the overhead power lines...

    </antediluvian joke>

    Yes, sorry, that one's so old it has a carbon date. Mine's the one with the Les Dawson joke book in the pocket...

  9. James Loughner

    Sensor stelling powwer

    So the sensor that monitors power usage will itself steal power from the lines LOL.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Well yeah, but to be honest power lines leak anyway, so it's not so much stealing as taking advantage of the spillage.

  10. DropBear Silver badge

    "Detecting fires is no-doubt useful, but it's not immediately obvious what other applications will be found for Voltree's technology"

    What are you talking about, not immediately obvious?!? BIGFOOT, WE'RE COMING FOR YOUUUUU!!!

  11. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    Sucking power from trees to later detect a fire? By driving a giant nail into them? HOW ABOUT USING ENERGY FROM THE FIRE? Is that too obvious? A reservoir of liquid and a turbine. Heat from the fire boils the liquid, drives the turbine, and provides tons of power. It's so good at harvesting power that the circuits will stay nice and cool until the liquid runs out.

  12. Yru

    IoS? Where've I heard that before?

    "The popular press keeps banging on about smart thermostats and wearable technology, as though that were the Internet of Things..."

    Surely The Reg would never stoop to such silly pooh-poohing when they of course know full well the difference between the cambrian explosion of networked measurement systems that is upon us and a toaster that tweets.

  13. Brian 3
    Big Brother

    I for one...

    ...welcome our new Thing overlords!

  14. king of foo

    whatever happened to

    Humans as batteries? Worked in the matrix.

    Being a bat fastard I long for an implant that harvests the power of bacon so it ends up fueling my devices rather than my waistline.

    "No love, you look positively skinny in that outfit. Hey, your mobile's getting low, here, eat this bacon butty."

    Sod curing cancer, cure bacon instead.

    1. Tanuki

      Re: whatever happened to

      Wasn't there also some cosmetic surgeon in the 'states who fueled his car on recycled human-fat from his liposuction practice?

      Now that's *real* power.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: whatever happened to

        I'd call it living off the fat of the land.

        1. Maty

          Re: whatever happened to

          The case, reported Feb. 17 in The Wall Street Journal, involved one Dr. Craig Bittner of Beverly hills (where else?)

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Just wondering

    how much heat is generated in the Palace of Westminister when our elected representatives and peers are actually there?

    Could we not store and transform all that extra hot air?

  16. DJO Silver badge

    Quart Oscillator?

    On the graphic there is the legend:

    "32kHz Quart Oscillator"

    Is this a UK Quart or a US Quart because there is a difference:

    So they should be:

    32kHz 1.1365225 litre Oscillator (UK) --> 0.66 Bulgarian funbag Oscillator

    32kHz 0.9463529 litre Oscillator (US) --> 0.55 Bulgarian funbag Oscillator

    I think we should be told - the truth is out there.

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