March 19, 2009 It wasn’t surprising to see that power conservation was a prevalent theme for entries in this year’s core77 Greener Gadgets Design Competition – the first two places were taken by variations on household power meters. One of the entries that made it to the semi final stage that we thought warranted some kudos was the Inlet ‘Outlet’ - a concept that would see household electrical outlets accompanied by an electrical ‘inlet’ that would make it easy for householders to feed power back into the power grid.

The designers, Carla Diana and Jeff Hoefs, say energy could be captured from obvious kinetic sources such as exercise equipment, and emerging solutions such as cells that convert heat into energy. The concept could also be used in commercial settings with gyms being the obvious example. They also believe that such a system could encourage the development of new devices that capture wasted energy to feed back into the grid.

We like the idea, but the rolling out of infrastructure to support the feeding of energy back into the grid is likely to render the device a pipedream in the short term - although such an idea could possibly work on a self-contained level. People could store energy generated in-house in a battery for later use, lessening the need to draw power from the grid. The Inlet ‘Outlet’ could also have the added benefit of tackling childhood obesity - nothing’s going to get those kids on an exercise bike quicker than if it ensures their TV and gaming consoles keep running.

Darren Quick

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