NPR logo Gives New Meaning to the Electric Slide...

Gives New Meaning to the Electric Slide...

It's a woman. She's 28. And she just generated 5 watts.

New Scientist brings us this item about a new kind of floor covering. Japanese scientists have developed a carpet that can determine a person's age and gender. The carpet has a layer of silicon rubber, embedded with tiny sensors. When someone steps onto the carpet, the sensors measure changes in resistance and pick up differences in walking forces. Japanese researchers have already found that a person's foot size and walking speed can reveal their age. And men and women have slightly different centers of balance in relation to their shoe size.

And if you think your walking workout gives you energy, some British engineers say you can also donate some to your local electric company. Wired reports a British company is gathering street vibrations from pedestrians and converting them into electricity. Claire Price, director of Facility Architects, says each footstep can generate 5 to 7 watts of energy. The company is developing a heel-strike generator, which would trap and store the energy from people's footsteps. It plans to install them in places where there's heavy foot traffic, such as busy subway stations. During rush hour, the machines could capture 20,000 footfalls per hour, which produces enough energy to power a building's lights for one day. Price says the company plans to have a working prototype by Christmas.

Just a little science to end the day, in honor of my colleague, Joe Palca. He'll be taking over this seat on Monday. I've had a great time.