Intel planning to harvest free energy

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Intel planning to harvest free energy

Intel’s chief technology officer Justin Rattner has been detailing the latest research from Intel labs into power saving and generation.

Chief among the systems being developed are "wireless identification and sensing platform," or WISPs. These small sensors can be implanted into buildings, devices or even humans and could generate power by scavenging it from the environment, micro generating their own power through sunlight, thermal energy or even sound waves

“We’re sitting in a room that’s awash with energy,” he said.

“There’s photons of light hitting the desk, thermal energy from body heat and you could even harvest the energy from a moving trackball on a BlackBerry.”

These sensors would have a small radio and could provide real-time reporting on environments by sending bursts of data to receivers before recharging. A pilot scheme has seen WISPs installed on San Francisco street sweepers to monitor air pollution.

However, the technology has big implications for better data centre management he said. By implanting WISPs in data centres managers could get a far more accurate picture of heat dissipation and shift computing loads to cooler areas of a data centre to cut costs.

“We’ll be able to model the weather inside the data centre,” he said.

“This will enable thermally-aware load management. You can migrate workloads to cooler sections of the data centre and stop freezing the whole data centre and operate at a wider variety of temperatures.”

Looking ahead WISPs could be used on a mass scale in society to track germ movements though the air or even implanted in the human body to identify viruses.

Rattner did say that this technology was 4-5 years away at best but researchers in Intel’s research centres were having very promising results.
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