Brace yourself

Reports this week of a high-tech knee brace that generates electricity and recharges batteries while you walk made Downtime think of the money that could be saved if only we thought twice before plugging into the mains or wasting precious fossil fuels.

The University of Michigan has developed the brace, which can generate enough power to run 10 mobile phones a time. It may seem ridiculous to need 10 phones at the same time but, according to research from First Direct, the 45 million adults in Britain share 70 million SIM cards and 71 million handsets.

Anyway, here are Downtime’s ideas for further savings that could be made, using just one vertical market – shipping – as an example:

1 Fit ships with huge poles and attach massive canvas sheets by using ropes. The wind would power them.

2 Invade less powerful countries – let’s say Wales for argument’s sake – and force the male inhabitants to sit below deck where there would be lots of oars. They could row and sing their hearts out.

3 On billionaires’ yachts, we could fit to the chairs a clever combination of pedals (connected to a system of paddles on the hull) and let the billionaires’ kids and their friends pedal away.