Breath Powered USB Devices

I think we all know from The Matrix that the human body carries thousands of BTUs for energy. Considering the machines used our bodies for power in that classic film, why don’t we use our bodies to power our machines?

A developer on Indestructables used this idea for a Breath powered USB charger. That’s right, for all of us who have many mobile devices, it would be handy to have something that uses what is essentially wasted energy. You have to ask yourself where this would lead, which is why I wrote this:

Waste of Breath

“Jenny, what are you doing?”


“Yes, I can see that. You don’t even have your Breath-charger on. Do you know how much power you are wasting?”

“I don’t know, a few volts?”

“That’s right, you could charge a cell phone, PDA, Blackberry, or even…”

“All right, I get it. Do I have to wear this all the time?”

“No, just sixteen hours a day. Most of it can be done in your sleep, or in your downtime, like now.”

“I can’t sleep with these things on.”

“You’ll get used to it. I had to when I was your age. And I had to wear it a lot longer.”


“What did you say?”

“My teacher said that when she was young, it was only required for eight hours a day.”

“There was more energy back then. Now we barely have enough to keep the lights on. That’s why it’s so important that you wear that charger any time you can.”

“But I can’t stand it. It feels like someone’s hugging me too tight.”

“Well, let me adjust it.”

“My teacher’s already tried. But when I told her that it was comfortable, it wouldn’t work right.”

“It has to be tight in order for it to work? Oh, why won’t you ever get used to it? You know all your friends can sleep just fine with it on.”

“How do you know?”

“Because their lights are on. Now put it on, otherwise, it’s just…”

“I know, a waste of a breath.”

Jenny actually had every intention of putting her breath-charger on, but she only wanted a few minutes without it. She had hoped her mother wouldn’t see her with it off, but she always had a way of walking in the room at the worst possible time.

All she wanted was just a few minutes away from it. Just to exercise the freedom of breathing without feeling that it had to be donated to electricity.

I suppose we all like the idea of using our breath, which is essentially wasted energy to good use, but there are some things that just shouldn’t be used as energy sources. Especially when it seems unnatural to wear something like this.

The other day, I was talking to a girl who was on the swim team. She was wearing two packs of ice that were shrink-wrapped to her shoulders. I thought she was hurt, but she said that she swims four hours a day, and the ice is necessary for her strenuous exercise. To me, the ice to her shoulders seemed odd, but she believe it was necessary.

I suppose all of believe that we have to do something unnatural for some greater good. Let us hope that someone doesn’t require us to wear breath-power in the future. However, if there is an energy crisis, we may have to.

Tech Gone Awry
Technology Writer

Jun 7, 2007
by Myra Per-Lee

I kinda like the idea...

What about when we're on a treadmill or stationary bike? Certain that energy should go somewhere... we're certainly not.

Good column, Tech!


Myra Per-Lee
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