For many climate scientists, the future of energy lies in nuclear. But to industrial designer Naomi Kizhner, it could very well be driven by blinks, blood flow, and synaptic pulses from the brain.
For a final project at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Academic College, Kizhner created a theoretical line of wearable devices that would harvest kinetic energy from the body. She built the mock-ups using a 3-D printer, then stuck them onto a human being for a short film about the project.
“I wanted the project to provoke a debate,” Kizhner says. “Technically, there are developments today that can make these devices real, but theoretically speaking, I don’t know if we’re willing to sacrifice our bodies this way to make energy. It kind of dehumanizes us—it uses the body as a vessel.”
Case in point would be Kizhner’s blood-flow device. In the film, she shows an actress desperately huffing a cigarette to make her heart beat faster, thus powering the mini hydraulic turbine in her arm, and storing energy. It’s not clear where that stored energy goes, exactly, but it looks like it feeds into a ubiquitous grid, or maybe an Internet of all things, everywhere.
Yet, even for a speculative method of harvesting energy, Kizhner did put quite a bit of thought into what execution might require. Each device has gold filaments, for example, because gold makes one of the best conductors. Meanwhile, the hydraulic turbine she describes works like a “two-way syringe.”
Other devices Kizhner envisioned didn’t quite make the cut. She considered an energy harvester for sneezes, as well as a piece that would pick up on friction generated between the thighs while walking.
But to Kizhner’s earlier point, encouraging chafing also seems like something that actively works against humanity’s best interests.