The band takes center stage, the fans surge forward and the sheer power of the crowd’s excitement amplifies the sound of their favorite songs – providing enough energy, in fact, to move a train.
It could happen in the Crowd Farm, a conceptual design by two graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that seeks to milk the mechanical movement of hundreds or thousands of assembled people to produce electrical power.
In principal, a large-scale version of the setup could harness the collective energy of commuters bustling toward subway stations, shoppers marching through mega malls or fans dancing at a rock concert. Already, the students have shown how the simple act of sitting on a stool can generate enough power to turn on four LED lights.
The Crowd Farm team takes inspiration from an old anecdote about Thomas Edison and a simple but effective turnstile. When visitors toured Edison’s summer property, the inventor allegedly asked them to pass through a peculiar turnstile. In response to their bemused queries, Edison would tell them good-naturedly that they had just helped him pump several gallons of water from his well into his storage tank.