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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Solar Powered Mouse

Solar Powered MouseMinister Cramer of the Ministry for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment is taking part in a user trial of the world's first exclusively photovoltaic-powered (PV) computer mouse. The trial should demonstrate whether the mouse, named 'Sole Mio', can be fully charged during busy daily activities. The computer mouse was developed within the Syn-Energy programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO in Dutch), in which the Universities of Twente and Utrecht, ECN and TU Delft cooperate closely.

Minister Cramer's Sole Mio is one of the first test series of 15. The minister has been asked to take part as a tester in the user trials to see whether the unit can reach its full charge during busy daily activities. For TU Delft and its partners the Sole Mio is primarily a demonstration design, which should show whether renewable energy products, with higher functionality and given an attractive form, would also encourage users to adopt modern and consistently sustainable conduct.

The point of departure for the Sole Mio's design is use by an office worker with access to outside light, augmented by artificial light. Being able to operate the PV computer mouse independently of the usual USB computer power source is dependent on a number of factors. These include the willingness of the user to adapt his behaviour to favourable light conditions by regularly charging the unit with daylight from the window, and the computer usage pattern. With solar energy, under ideal circumstances charging can occur a factor of five times quicker than in the current situation. Over time it is estimated that several hundred million batteries could be saved annually on a global scale. The net environmental benefit is still restricted by the high energy content of current PV cells. However the introduction of new types of cheap and energy-extensive PV cells, on which TU Delft and partners are working, would eventually yield an even higher environmental gain.

The computer mouse is the result of more than four years of research and design activities by the Syn-Energy programme of NWO, in which the Universities of Twente and Utrecht, ECN and TU Delft cooperate closely. Coordination of the programme is the responsibility of the Design for Sustainability programme (DfS) and the Delft Design Institute (DDI) of the TU Delft Industrial Design Engineering Faculty.

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