July 17, 2010

Self-powered devices

One way to beat Apple when estimates of energy use for consumer electronics will require 200 new nuclear power-plants by 2030 will be by self-sustainable information devices, like the 70's solar powered calculators.

The question is then, how much information technology can you power from x cm² of solar cells today?

For example if the screen of a typical 'ipad' device were to gather energy as well as showing information would this be enough to power today's computer functionality?

By computer functionality I mean the usual tasks we like the device to perform like word processing, email, image viewing and surfing the internet.

To close the loop between the internal efficiency of the device and the requirement of the external world in terms of surfing the internet we can have adapted but open sites. I'm thinking of social sites that would not need to have energy consuming advertising and bloat but be funded by the relationship to the hardware manufactures. This also to guarantee a minimum level of user satisfaction.

Even if this might not be successful in a power hungry society. It would be interesting to see how much information technology can be powered today from limited amount of solar cells in comparison to the 70's technology knowhow. And maybe the lessons and experience earned from such an undertaking might make programs in Linux run more effortlessly beautiful than ever before.

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