Although deriving electric power from everyday actions such a pressing buttons is quite an old idea and one well represented at this competition with a variety of instruments such as wireless switches, doors and locks, one physicist, walked away with the Grand Prix for his new spin on an old idea. Martyn Nunuparov, founder of Qmodule Company, which unites a group of specialists from countries all over the world, presented his innovation that concerns the converter diagram utilized for pressing buttons.
Hand- powered current generators have been around for a hundred years, but Nunuparov and his colleagues designed a piezoelectric converter similar to those igniting gas with a spark in one-off lighters and mounted it under a switch button. Although pressing the key generates very low current, it is more than enough for a modern chip. Nunuparov’s discovery proves that scientists can now develop almost any type of self contained device from wireless keyboards to motion detectors for the military, expending much less mechanical energy than was previously required. With his innovative piezo-converter, there is nothing that will break down with the passage of time, and fingers utilized as alternative energy sources leave no waste products in their wake, save fingerprints.
The Intel innovation prize for ‘Best IT and Telecommunications Project’ went to Dmitri Rakov, a senior research associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences Engineering Institute, who invented a new computer communication system designed for the blind and partially sighted. Oddly, this population does not receive much attention in Russia despite the fact that there are about one million blind people in Russia. (Innovators also are rarely interested in this ironically invisible segment of the population.) The last significant innovation in this area was believe it or not, Louis Braille’s alphabet invention of raised dots that dates back to 1826!
High time for change and kudos to the winners.