Bluetooth Headphones with Kinetic Energy as a Catalyst to Wearable Computing

Nokia BH-214 Bluetooth Headphones
I am a pretty big fan of the Nokia BH-214 Bluetooth headphones that I have. I have been very forward in using them whether I’m driving, biking, or just walking around. They’ve been quite comfortable, and in mosts cases pretty simple to use (turn on and go) as should powered device. However, the other week, I took a small ride to a local coffeeshop and was greeted by the tone of my BH-214s dying. The day before I had a long day of riding and connecting around southeast Charlotte, but neglected to charge them that night. I didn’t think about it. I get two days of use from them regularly. But not this time. They were dead, and I was without tunes to help the work along.

And so I tweeted:

@Nokia, can ur next set of Bluetooth headphones charge from kinetic energy (like watches). Dead headphones soon after start of biking suck

Nokia pays attention to comments like this to existing products, and definitely when it comes to accessories. So, I figured that at the very least that I would have simply have been heard. I wasn’t prepared for their response to add it as an idea over at their Ideas Project site. I’d nearly forgotten about that site (weird, considering that I was a moderator to the Symbian Ideas site to which Ideas Project is quite similar to).

And so I wandered over to the Ideas Project site and submitted this idea:

Use Kintetic Energy to Recharge BH-214 BT Headphones

One of the challenges of having wireless accessories such as Bluetooth headsets, is keeping them charged. Ideally, the headset should be able to at least keep some measure of power by capturing the energy from the wearer. Hence my idea, based on a recent experience of my Nokia BH-214 Bluetooth headphones not having enough power while I was biking.

The BH-214s, as well as the recently released Essence headphones, are small enough to clip onto the clothing of the wearer. Is there room to add into the element that clips onto the user (also has audio, power controls) a kinetic energy charging/capturing system, such as what has been found in watches. It doesn’t have to have a lot of power generated, but if it can store power (maybe at some specific battery level that it kicks in and begins collecting energy) then it is less likely that someone would end up in a situation where the headset isn’t at a loss for power – at least not for long.

This addition to the headset could also produce a means of getting people more active (move around to power your device); while emphasizing some of the connectivity that mobile devices have available which promote entertainment or safety.

Now, its not really a "new" idea as I’m simply expanding on what we’ve already seen in watches for a few decades now. But, it does address a few reasons why many of our wireless devices are a bit more painful in living with than they should be. For one, it kind of doesn’t make sense that we should have to pay as much attention to powering these miniaturized devices. Yes, they need those moments of having a full, good charge; but, we are also at the point where our activity (or inactivity if you look at products like Palm/HP’s Toutoothbrushes some toothbrushes) should add up to machines utilizing some of that energy.

Then you just have the approach that using wearable computing devices powered by activity can become a catalyst to get us moving. I do agree that I’m speaking from that "middle class USA" mindset where folks sit way too long and would rather drive a block than bike it. And so, in terms of marketing towards that aspirational mindset – this is what most of consumer marketing is – that’s an approach. On, the other side of that, we’ve got folks with not-as-much-financial-freedom who would benefit by more sustainable approaches to devices such as wireless headsets with kinetic charging. They are already in states of life where movement is a matter of work and life, and so capturing those moments for more than consuming activities is something that I would think empowers all and just flat out makes sense.

Lastly, you’ve got that aspect of "being prepared for emergencies" that always seems to be missed in news reports (the person would have made the call if their mobile was charged; they could have been found if there was some kind of radio signal we could have grabbed onto).This would be a device that emits a radio signal – not with much range – but in cramped places where some movement could happen, could serve as an emergency beacon.

Ok, so I’m aspirational. But, it makes sense, even for someone like myself who just bikes. Being able to squeeze just a little bit more power out of a set of headphones, watches, pedometers, etc. would just make sense. And in terms of where we’ve been positioning (mobile) computing as something not stationary, why not?

Of course, this message might be lost to those who can make this happen. Espeically, if they were out and about and lost power to their reading device before they could reply.

And if they can read this, and consider it. I’ve got another headphone idea that might be work exploring…

2 thoughts on “Bluetooth Headphones with Kinetic Energy as a Catalyst to Wearable Computing

  1. This is a great idea. A solar cell would be nice too. While your at it make me a hard drive that will go under my skin an implant that also powered by kinetic energy and runs on bluetooth.

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