Here’s the thing about pets: They just don’t pull their weight around the house. Not once has my dog done the dishes, cleaned up the hair he leaves clinging to the couch, or offered to fold the laundry. But maybe the day has come when our furry friends can help reduce our electric bills.
According to the design site Tuvie, Chinese student Yuan Gu has designed a humidifier that can draw its power from a cat. The ball-shaped humidifier can be plugged in, just like conventional appliances. But if you want to save energy, you can plop the product on the floor next to Kitty. When the cat bats the ball around, the battery inside recharges. (More images and diagrams at Tuvie.)
This new product caught my eye not because I have a cat (or because I need a humidifier) but because it reminds me of my long-standing, pie-in-the-sky dream: to find a way to harness energy from my dog’s tail. My dog, Milo, has a tail that wags nonstop throughout his waking hours. (In fact, it often whaps against the wood floor even when he’s asleep.) It’s cute, but it seems like a colossal waste of energy. And so I’ve wondered: Isn’t there a way we can turn that canine happiness into electricity? Surely someone can design a lightweight sensor that attaches to a dog’s tail and converts the back and forth motion into electrical energy. It wouldn’t be enough to power my apartment, but maybe I could get a cell phone charge out of it.
People always think I’m joking when I share this idea, and I usually laugh along. But I’m dead serious. It’s got to be possible, and reading about the kitty humidifier lifted my spirits. Perhaps the tail recharger is next? Any students looking for a pet project? (Sorry, couldn’t resist…) I have no grant money to offer, but if you build me a tail charger, I will give you free publicity on this blog. And that’s something you just can’t buy.