Between watching a favorite TV show and mentally checking off a to-do list, many of us are already trying to accomplish five things at once while working out. One student designer from South Korea is taking that a step further with a treadmill that does laundry while in use.
Si Hyeong Ryu’s "Wheel" features several compartments underneath the circular treadmill track in which to stuff your dirty clothes. Power generated on the treadmill would spin the wash cycles, but also remain stored on a battery for days when you get cramps early in your run.
"We are living in a paradox that we cannot keep ourselves clean without damaging our surroundings," Ryu writes in his submission for the Electrolux 2014 design competition.
He’s referring, of course, to the enormous energy suck that comes from washing machines. A rinse, tumble, and dry on a regular basis make up a significant portion of a household’s energy expenditure, and, according to the Guardian, one use of a washing machine translates into more than a pound of carbon dioxide emissions. (Note: There are ways around this. The University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems estimates washing clothes on "cold" can decrease carbon dioxide emissions by up to 15 pounds per laundry load.)
Like solar, kinetic energy is a powerful, underutilized resource that engineers are only beginning to exploit. If a wheel under your desk can power your laptop, it’s only a matter of time before a workout can power the wash.