Devices with e-paper displays like the Kindle use a very low amount of power. A team at Disney Research has developed a flat, flexible power generator that can be incorporated into sheets of paper, plastic or other common materials.

The team were able to lay materials like Teflon between sheets of other conductive materials so that when rubbed, the materials generate an electric current that can power an electronic device like a Kindle, with low-power requirements.

Disney Research Paper Power Generator

“Though the fundamental principles of operation remain the same, it’s possible to build paper generators that respond to a number of different gestures, such as tapping, touching, rubbing or sliding,” Interaction Group director Ivan Poupyrev said in a release. “We can imagine any number of ways to use this to add sights, sounds and other interactivity to books and other printed materials inexpensively and without having to worry about power sources.”

These devices are quick to put together and can be built in less than five minutes. A normal printer can be filled with conductive ink so then it can print out the sheets of conductive material. They only generate very low amounts of power, so they are so suitable for low-power devices.

“It’s very simple, it’s flexible and it’s printable using conventional printers,” team member Mustafa Karagozler said. “It’s a technology with potential applications we’ve only begun to explore.”

[Image via Disney Research]