16-year-old Ann Makosinski, from Victoria, Canada, has come up with a marvelous invention – a flashlight powered solely by body-heat. Her project won second prize at a local science fair, and made it all the way to the 2013 Google Science Fair, where she was declared the winner for her age group. She also updated it to a handsfree version this year – a body-heat powered headlamp, for which she won the 2014 Weston Youth Innovation Award.
Ann’s project is truly remarkable for its sheer simplicity and brilliance. I mean, it isn’t every day that you come across a light source that doesn’t use batteries, solar power, or wind energy. The device just powers on as soon as you hold it in your palm. If that isn’t genius, I don’t know what is!
The secret behind Ann’s invention is thermoelectric technology, and devices called Peltier tiles. And it’s really surprising that no one’s ever thought to use that kind of technology to power a flashlight before. Think of all the AA batteries we could avoid using!