Power your TV remote control just by using it? It's more likely than you think. Practical, environmentaly friendly piezoelectric powered devices now being developed could completely replace batteries in the future.
It's frustrating enough trying to find your TV remote control, but then to find out the batteries are dead and need to be replaced? Priceless.
Never fear, a pilot project being conducted by NEC Electronics (Necel) and Onryoku Hatsuden means to replace batteries - dead or alive - by changing the way small electronic devices are powered in the first place.
The answer is piezoelectric power, currently used on a small scale in such things as flint-less cigarette lighters and those push-button igniter backyard gas-grill barbecues.
The prototype TV remote control being shopped around to various manufacturers works on the "piezoelectric effect", which in a nutshell converts mechanical stresses like pressure and vibration into electrical energy. The benefits of using piezoelectric technology in TV remote controls are many: lighter weight, less batteries being disposed of, and a remote that's always powered up when you want to use it.
The prototype battery-less TV remote will be displayed at the Embedded Technology 2009 exhibition running November 18 through 20 at the PACIFICO Yokohama convention complex. As it's just a demonstration model for the technology, the looks aren't anything to crow about - somewhat blocky and overly large (6 by 2.8 by 1.4 inches). That should change once production models hit the retail market.
Piezoelectric technology is expected to make its way into other consumer lifestyle products besides TV remotes. According to NEC's CEO Kohei Hayamizu, piezoelectric push-buttons could make an appearance "in future applications such as pedometers and car keys". This is one eco-friendly assault on the battery we all can get charged up about! (via Asiajin and Asahi News)