Jorge Chapa

CROWD FARMING: Power your building with human motion!

by , 08/13/07

crowd farm, people power, alternative power, sustainability, sustainable solutions, torino, italy, MIT, James Graham, Thaddeus Jusczyk

How many people does it take to launch the space shuttle? The answer is 84,162,203, all of them taking a single step in a Crowd Farming system developed by MIT students James Graham and Thaddeus Jusczyk. Together, they have proposed the creation of a people powered power plant (an idea similar to human-powered gyms, and sustainable dance clubs), in which people would be generating energy by simple act of walking and moving around.


The Crowd Farm works by turning mechanical energy into electricity. In this proposal, the weight of a person is translated to tiled blocks which be slightly pressed down as people walk past them. A generator embedded inside them would take that small vertical movement and translate it into energy. To prove that their concept works, they created a small stool which when sat on, would power four small LED lights inside it.

Their proposal won first place in a competition held at the Holcim Forum 2007, which focused on the theme of urban competition. Their proposal for the competition involved modelling a train station in Torino, Italy. In it, they succesfully showed the feasibility of their proposal to power large spaces by the movement of large amounts of people. This particular proposal also showed that this system could be used in large events, such as a concert. As more people arrive to the concert, more energy is available to pump out the sound from the speakers. Granted this technology is still years away from being feasible, but some day in the future, that one small step for man, could have been powered by 84 million of us.

+ Crowd Farm @ MIT

Human-Powered Dance Club >>
Human-Powered Gyms >>
Harvesting The Energy Of Human Movement @ Archinect
‘Crowd Farms’ could offer alternative energy @ MSNBC

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16 Comments

  1. Holcim Awards December 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Wow. This is an intriguing concept. Bold ideas like this are what brings home prizes at the Holcim Awards. Submit your projects today. http://bit.ly/a7rwWV

  2. Weekend Links November ... November 9, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    [...] green! Exercise in Human-Powered Gyms, go out to the Sustainable Dance Club or propose the Crowd Farm System to power your [...]

  3. Weekend Links November ... November 9, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    [...] green! Exercise in Human-Powered Gyms, go out to the Sustainable Dance Club or propose the Crowd Farm System to power your [...]

  4. Weekend Links November ... November 9, 2007 at 10:23 am

    [...] green! Exercise in Human-Powered Gyms, go out to the Sustainable Dance Club or propose the Crowd Farm System to power your [...]

  5. Capatpin » CROWD ... November 2, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

  6. SantaBJ October 11, 2007 at 9:12 am

    How about this – piezoelectric energy harvesting from high-traffic roads, subway stations, malls and other places that attract people in large crowds (preferably in more or less constant streams, or at least constant relative to power consumption).

  7. edmon umple October 11, 2007 at 1:02 am

    this is a preposterously stupid idea,the amount of copper necessary to collect the infinitesimal amounts of electricity this monstrously costly maintainence headache would produce, make the widespread use of this kind of thing impractical. maybe the gym parts would be worth it, if the transmission distances were short.remember, if you have a gym membership, someone else is doing your share of the physical work

  8. step, in the name of... August 22, 2007 at 12:16 am

    [...] inhabitat: How many people does it take to launch the space shuttle? The answer is 84,162,203, all of them [...]

  9. Party people… August 21, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    [...] Link to the article on Inhabitat.com  [...]

  10. David Mackey August 19, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    That is a great idea. Hopefully it becomes reality sooner than later. Couldn’t the same idea be applied to our roads as well?

  11. Crowd Farm for Energy &... August 18, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    [...] This is kind of an old story, but I like it.  It’s like the sound farming on highways that Burns, Marce, Mills and I talked about last summer. [...]

  12. native pangean August 17, 2007 at 2:55 am

    On human powered gyms, wouldn’t it be neat to get paid to go to the gym, maybe a swipe card that keeps track of BTU’s produced, makes the masses wanna get in shape.

  13. Crowd Farming: MIT prop... August 15, 2007 at 2:40 am

    [...] tip to Inhabitat: How many people does it take to launch the space shuttle? The answer is 84,162,203, all of them [...]

  14. Chaos Motor August 14, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    I came up with this about five years ago, got it sketched out in a notebook. Had a different application, but basically the same thing.

  15. GKG August 14, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    The Japanese were reported to have developed piezo-electric technology along the same lines and to have tested it in a subway station almost a year ago. I cannot unfortunately find a

  16. Lubula Kanyinda August 13, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Some people are simply smart. Great idea.

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