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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MIT Presents Powered SOFT Rockers to Charge Your Gadgets

by Amanda Smith

energy generating chair, green chair, lawn chair, outdoor rocking chair, solar powered rocking chair, sustainable chair, technology chair

SOFT Rocker. Designed by MIT Architecture students.

The concept of people creating power with motion was introduced to me by my spinning studio. It makes complete sense to capture the energy of a room full of people pedaling away like mad men for an hour and use that energy to power the guy taking a stroll on the treadmill. Simple motions are the basis of energy sources like windmills and water wheels, so why not turn human behaviors into energy sources? A group of architecture students at MIT sees the casual act of rocking as the perfect way to charge small electronics.

MIT professor Sheila Kennedy and a group of MIT architecture students developed the SOFT Rocker, which is a rocking chair/lounge chair for the great outdoors. The SOFT Rocker uses the human power of balance to create an interactive 1.5 axis, 35 watt solar tracking system. During daylight hours, the lounger captures solar power in a 12-ampere hour battery.

Soft Rocker, a solar powered recharging station, presented by MIT

For maximum power absorption, the curved, solar-panel-covered seats rotate on an axis to keep them facing the sun. Additional energy is generated from the rocking motion created when people climb inside. All the energy that is harvested can be used to recharge gadgets plugged into the three USB ports and to illuminate a light strip on the inside of the loop.

Soft Rocker, a solar powered recharging station, presented by MIT

The SOFT Rockers were created for the Festival of Art+Science+Technology (FAST) as an antidote to “conventional ‘hard’ urban infrastructure.

Soft Rocker, a solar powered recharging station, presented by MIT

About: MIT is a prestigious Boston based university that reputation for its technology and engineering programs. The School of Architecture and Planning has gotten press in recent years for the construction of the Media Lab, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. Professor Sheila Kennedy is an expert in the integration of solar cell technology in architecture, changing the way buildings receive and distribute energy.