It's around this time of year that we catch the first glimpses of the next batch of remarkable design talent soon to be unleashed on to the world. It's also a time—reminiscing whilst pouring over graduation projects—that we're reminded of our own college-day optimistic naivety. I mean, just look at all these wonderful if wildly impractical design solutions!
If I had a penny for every pedal-powered sustainable power project...I could probably have paid an olympic athlete to demonstrate how unrealistic these propositions can be. Fortunately, students at Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts have done that for us.
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There's a common misconception that our bodies—if tasked with doing so—could produce the power that our increasingly consuming lives demand. Any engineer worth their salt will tell you that this is pure fallacy—the conversion from human to appliance being absolutely abysmal. Sure we can wind up a radio or keep those mini-screens on those gym bikes going but we quickly hit our limit when the energy demands get higher—anything involving heating for example.
By means of demonstrating this inconvenient truth, Robert Förstemann took on the challenge of heating a single slice of toast in a 700 Watt toaster with the incredible strength of his 74cm diameter thighs. Setting out at a steady 50km/h Förstemann battles with maintaining pace to keep the toaster going—the power required equivalent to climbing a 40 degree incline.
Managing to keep the toaster going for just long enough to give the bread a slight golden brown, Förstemann crashed out exhausted from the excursion —an important lesson in energy usage (I'll never look at my toaster the same way again!). If Förstemann's meaty limbs can't cook a slice of bread what chance do the rest of us have!
Design students: beware the human-powered fallacy!