Power of the People

What if all the energy you expend typing away on your laptop were stored for your benefit? Thanks to a crafty Compaq Computer Corp. employee, it could happen. Adrian Crisan, a software engineer at the company’s Houston headquarters, has devised a way to harness the pitter-patter of your fingers to recharge laptop batteries.

The technology works like this: Small magnets are mounted on each key, and a coil is mounted on both ends of the magnets. When the typist hits a key, the magnet moves across the coils and generates a current. The currents from the tapped keys travel to a pump that charges the computer’s battery. The more the user types, the more electricity the keys generate.

Crisan’s innovation could increase a laptop’s operating time or reduce the size of its battery, thus resulting in a lighter computer, according to the abstract he and Compaq filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Though it sounds like a promising concept, there’s been no word yet from Compaq on when the technology will find its way to your desk.