New wearable device AMPY powers your cell phone just by walking

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Published on Oct. 15, 2014
New wearable device AMPY powers your cell phone just by walking
If you live in a city like Chicago you’re bound to find yourself walking to your next destination. Now those footsteps can be more than a transportation method. AMPY, a Chicago-based and Kickstarter funded startup, has developed a device that captures kinetic energy and turns it into battery stored electricity. Co-founded by Alex Smith, Mike Geier, and Tejas Shastry, three engineering PhD students at Northwestern University, AMPY captures kinetic energy from walking, running, biking or any activity that jostles the device. 
AMPY weighs about as much as a typical cell phone and is 2.5" x 2.5" x 0.75" in size. With the AMPY device in your pocket, a 10,000 step walk, 1 hour cycling trip, or 30 minute run will generate about 3 hours of cell phone battery life. The charge is transferred from the battery to your cell phone or wearable via a mini-USB port, which can also re-charge AMPY, if your activity hasn’t generated enough electricity. To generate energy AMPY uses two small inductors, components that turn kinetic energy into electrical energy.
Along with its hardware AMPY comes with a companion mobile app that documents how many calories you have burned, how many watts that equals, and how much cell phone life you can expect to get from that stored energy.
Though AMPY relies on inductors to generate energy, using kinetic inductors is nothing new — think of those shake-to-power flashlights. What makes AMPY’s inductors unique is their size. 
“We were able to come up with a new architecture for the inductor inside of AMPY,” said Tejas Shastry, co-founder and CEO of AMPY. “Commercial-size inductors are about the size of a paper towel roll. AMPY’s is three to four sizes smaller and still generates the same power.”
AMPY’s inductor technology is patent pending. Beyond the AMPY device, more compact inductors open up opportunities in several different industries.
“There are a lot of markets for this: you know military applications and there are a lot of applications in the developing world where power sources are scarce. Our ability to make the inductor small just opens up a whole world of possibilities,” said Shastry.
Perhaps most promising for this new technology is the possibility of using small inductors within wearable technology.
“We can take out technology and integrate it into any wearable devices, so they can provide some or much of the power requirements for those devices,” said Shastry.
“We have had initial conversation with many wearable manufacturers.”
At this time AMPY isn’t disclosing who those manufacturers are.
With possible OEM relationships yet to be concrete, the AMPY team has plenty to do to keep up with their Kickstarter campaign. At the time this article was published, AMPY’s Kickstarter fund already surpassed its $100,000 goal and was climbing past $149,000, with 25 days to go. 
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