How to power an FM radio using moss

If you love listening to music as much as you love this green Earth, then you’re going to be head over heels for this project.

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A British biochemist and a product designer worked together to build an FM radio powered by biological solar panels that incorporate moss.

In layman’s terms—it’s a radio powered by a plant.

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University of Cambridge biochemist Paolo Bombelli collaborated with London-based product designer Fabienne Felder to develop Moss FM. They say that in addition to their technology being the first plant-powered radio, it’s also the first functional moss-powered device that requires more electricity than an LCD screen.

“Moss FM is a biological solar panel,” said Bombelli in an interview with BBC Radio 4. “In the same way that the solar panels harnesses the energy of light and delivers electrical power, Moss FM it does it by using biological material.”

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While it might look like an elementary school science project, the device is actually a bit complicated. A frame holds 10 moss pots which are all connected to form, more or less, a “photo microbial fuel cell”. The biochemical process that takes place in this fuel cell harnesses the electrons and protons produced by the photosynthesizing plants, and turns them into electrical current.

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At the moment, the moss plants generate a potential of more than 4.5 volts The first time the radio powered up, it was able to play for a full 80 seconds. While moss was chosen because it’s cheap and easy on the eyes, the bio-radio duo said that other plants and algae can be used. They plan on exploring this, and also seeing if they can increase the amount of power generated.

See the radio in action below:

Headband acts as alternative to wearing ear buds

Called the “VIBSO headphones”, this headband is actually meant to serve as an alternative to ear buds and headphones, even though they don’t actually go in the ear.

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Designed by Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne student Renaud Defrancesco, the VIBSO is made of transparent acrylic glass and sends music vibrations across its surface to the user’s ears via a vibrating electromagnet.

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The magnet works, more or less, like a speaker, which has a connecting element that causes a membrane to vibrate and create sounds. In the case of VIBSO, the membrane is the glass, which transmits sound very well, and is also flexible and easy to form.

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The vibrations move down the membrane and over the surface that covers part of the ears. This allows the user to wear the headband without feeling the actual vibrations running across their noggin. The shape of the VIBSO directs the sound directly inward so that only the wearer hears the music.

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If need be, the headband can be covered for added comfort. Users can also share the music by letting someone put their ear up against the other side of the band. Personal space issues are up to the individuals.

According to Defrancesco, the purpose of the VIBSO headphones is to allow the user to be “bathed in music without being isolated like with normal headphones, which can be dangerous because you don’t hear what’s around you.”