For my final I would like to explore the idea of human-powered artwork and wasted energy.
What I think of as wasted energy is energy humans expend doing daily activities that exceeds demand of the task. We are already doing work with our bodies to move – is there any way to harvest more of it?
Of course, the problem is that harvesting energy adds demands that can outweigh the benefits – the knee-gen brace being a perfect example of this. Or on a larger scale, the energy required to produce harvesting equipment itself can outweigh its lifetime harvest.
However, another way to look is to see what people consider “acceptable costs” during their day and try to take a share of that by lowering the actual energy “costs” lower and then making up the difference with an energy harvesting cost.
For instance: The full-height “rotogate” turnstiles in the subway take a certain amount of energy to push open. But it is not always the same amount of energy – the high entrance/high exit (HEET) two-way turnstiles take more effort to push than one-way exit gates. There is a palpable sticking point midway through the turn.
I would like to investigate the cause of this sticking point – perhaps related to a brake mechanism while entrance is inactive – and see if I can “replace” that brake with a small generator. The generator would then be used to power an interesting public art installation, ideally.