Calgary student to power lights with vibrations created at folk fest

Posted by Reid Fiest on 24 July 2015

Could our bodies be the battery of the future? It’s a theory being tested by a masters student at the University of Calgary. She is using all the good vibrations at the Calgary Folk Festival to power a unique project. Reid Fiest reports.

CALGARY – For 36 years, locals have be moving and grooving to the sounds of the Calgary Folk Music Festival. But what if the music, the beats, even the dancing could be used to create more than just a chill atmosphere?

The University of Calgary Environmental Design Masters student’s goal? To convert what entertains the crowds into electricity.

“There’s going to be vibrations from the performers, and from the base amps, and roadies, and everyone who touches the stage is going to make it vibrate slightly,” Robertson told Global News.

Using geophones – often used by seismic crews in the oil patch – she’s tracking the vibrations on the stage.

Then using the technology she developed, about seven devices will harness the movements.

“I’m going to capture those vibrations, convert them to electrical current and then funnel it into a battery, and the battery will power some lights.”

The energy will be used as part of an art exhibit at the festival. The goal is to generate enough power to keep it on for about two hours. If it works, she wants to expand the technology’s use.

Robertson is looking to install the energy harvesters on a bridge and see if the movement of cars driving over it may produce enough electricity to power its lights at night.

“We’ve got energy that we’re expending with cars already. We’ve already paid for the fossil fuels. Let’s sort of just double up,” she said.

Until then, many of the artists and fans at the Calgary Folk Music Festival running this weekend will be thrilled to know their energy is going to good use.

“To turn that kinetic energy of the folk festival into electric energy that you can see, that’s renewable, is an interesting concept,” festival spokesperson John Hiebert told Global News.

“That’s what folk fest is all about: creating a vibe"