Rocking Chair For Millennials: Charge Your Phone While Sitting In This Smart Chair


Sitting for long periods of time may not be so smart since it can lead to negative health effects, but sometimes we just need to kick back and recharge our batteries. And what better way to relax than to lean back in a rocking chair that can also give your smartphone's battery the extra boost it also needs to make it through the day?

Rocking chairs traditionally only seem to be used by the elderly, pregnant women and new mothers. But four undergrads at UC Berkeley invented a smart rocking chair perfect for millennials since it will capture the energy rocking creates to add battery life to phones and tablets when the sitter moves back and forth.

The rocking chair was created by students Matthew Cheung, Jessica Chiu, Julia Solano and Nick Firmani for their final project at the College of Engineering's Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation called the Interactive Seating Design Competition.

"We all sit too often and too long, and that produces increases in risk factors and diseases," associate professor Greg Niemeyer said.  "So we thought, how can we make sitting more interactive so you're not a passive sitter but an active sitter?"

The rocking chair called Volta uses the energy generated from the rocking motion of the person sitting in it to power the batteries of smartphones, tablets and other electronics.

Volta is equipped with a pendulum that is located below the seat. When the person sitting in the chair begins to rock, the motion causes the pendulum's gears to transform into a motor. Batteries can be attached to the pendulum via circuits to a low-power microcontroller, which then allows the energy to be converted into battery power for the electronics attached.

"That was the perfect choice for us because it generates all the power that it uses itself, so we had to go with something that wouldn't use a lot of power," Nick Firmani, the team's main computer science engineer, said.

But the final product was not what the team first envisioned. Since the goal of the course was to design a smart chair that would improve sitting by incorporating mechanical, electronic or software changes, the team first considered designing a chair with mobile software. Since Volta efficiently generated energy, they wanted to develop a mobile app that would allow users to track how much energy they produced.

But there had to be a better purpose for the energy created besides just comparing results on a leaderboard. And then the idea just rocked right on by.

"Ultimately what ended up happening was people would keep saying, 'Hey, where's the plug to charge my phone?' " Chiu said.

The team then installed a USB jack on Volta, which along with its Bluetooth low-energy technology, allowed users to change their smartphones and other mobile devices.

While this seems like the perfect addition to any millennials apartment, the team has no plans of manufacturing more of the 80-pound chairs.

Via: Popular Science


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