The ‘Power’ to change the world

That alarm which wakes you up in the morning, annoying yet indispensable for your schedule … That microwave which warms your food, so that you can grab a quick bite before rushing to work or school … That automobile that safely transports you to work/school, unless you choose to walk … Do you realize how dependent you are on technology today? This was not the case always!

I remember my first overseas student exchange program to Spain, in 2009, and I remember traveling across the country, navigating with the help of just paper maps. Smartphone did not seem essential to me ten years ago, but now I can’t think of surviving a day without one! The more you think about the impact of technology on your life, the more you will realize how it has been guiding the evolution of mankind. Don’t you want to contribute to this driver of the future of the entire planet, and beyond?

How exciting it would be to introduce a gadget that will change the way people plan their day. I thought for months what may that gadget be? I did a lot of research, mostly while commuting and mostly on my phone, and my phone was always low on charge. I forgot to carry my battery backup, almost every single day. My charger hardly got plugged out of the socket above my desk. I almost never used the public charging stations because I was always on-the-run, and I am sure that I am not the only one! Result? Often found myself stuck in the middle of nowhere, without a functional mobile phone. Sounds familiar?

I remember that one day, back in 2016, I was visiting a prospective client at a very remote location. I had taken a cab to the meeting; however, on the way back, I could not find any. Just when I wanted to use the Uber app, I was shocked to see that my phone had run out of charge. A group of strange men stared at me as I walked past them, without even knowing if I was moving in the direction of the nearest bus stop. It was scorching, 91°F, and I felt helpless and scared. I was vehemently shaking my phone, as if the motion would induce some charge. Wait, what if it could? What if I had something with me which I could just shake to generate power? What if I could harvest energy from motion and use it to charge my phone? Suddenly, as if it was a sign from the Universe (that I was on the right track), I saw something yellow in the far end of the seemingly endless lane. I was never happier to see such a dilapidated yellow Taxi that stopped and asked me where I wanted to go. Sitting in the car, all I could think about was the device that would generate charge from motion. Thus, started my research on Personal Energy Generator (PEG) technology and brainstorming on how to integrate this technology with things that people will not forget to carry with themselves.

My Wharton journey started with a blast. Wharton being my career switch to Finance, I dived into ‘Finance’ right at the start! The hectic Investment Banking recruiting kicked in after the mid-sems. However, I never forgot one other thing that I wanted to work on during my Wharton journey, something that has the potential to change lives. I named this venture ‘PowerMove’ and it is now a part of the Venture Initiation Program – Philadelphia (VIP-C).

The idea behind PowerMove is to leverage PEG technology in generating power for the gadgets that we move around with. Initially I conceived it as a wristwatch or fitness tracker, enabled with PEG, generating power from hand movements. This device shall double as a portable cell phone power bank; a ‘Green’ product that grants one the ‘Power’ to be in control of one’s life, the ‘Power’ to make a statement, and the ‘Power’ to save the planet in every move. Unlike the competing products such as, the mobile cases which have inbuilt battery backup, PowerMove shall the generate power-on-the-go and clean energy. PowerMove will generate power anytime, anywhere; you just need to ‘move’. The main challenge is the bulkiness of PEG technology that will be used, and in fact, this is a challenge for all mobile battery backup devices.

With the VIP-C Award, I have access to shared workspace, elaborate database, group advising, monthly workshops, and more, and currently I am researching how I can reduce the size of the PEG and integrate it with a wristwatch/fitness tracker so that it is always on the wrist in times of need. VIP-C mentors have been really supportive and encouraging. It is obvious that this technology will become more compact with time; in fact, around the year 2017, the Vanderbilt University had prototyped a jacket with ultrathin energy harvesting device that generates energy even from slow human motions and can be used to charge phones. The future looks optimistic and next semester onward, I would love to know what our Penn Engineers think about it.

My focus now is to integrate PEG technology with backpacks, before the evolution of the PEG technology into miniature, yet efficient, forms that are suitable for watches. People like me, who are always carrying backpacks, can wield the benefits of this amazing renewable energy technology immediately. I am looking forward to work with anyone who has the passion for or the experience in the energy sector, and/or finds the idea interesting. If we want our future generations to live healthy and long lives, we have no other option but to resort to clean energy in all micro-level and macro-level aspects. This is the time to take control, this is the time to change our destiny. Let’s ‘move’ towards a sustainable future, and change the world!

 

 

 

 

About Soumi Biswas WG'21

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