These socks use (we’re not kidding) pee to generate emergency electricity

In the history of scientific invention, there has been some mighty weird stuff, including, memorably, a 19th century patent for an anti-drowning gentleman’s hat. Today comes a new entry into the annals of this noble profession of human advancement, with news that British researchers have created socks that you pee into to create electricity.

The socks, developed by scientists at the University of the West of England in Bristol, are actually kind of amazing once you get past the ick factor. They work by containing microbial fuel cells, essentially batteries powered by bacteria that get all feisty when they come into contact with the nutrients in urine. The motion of walking forces the urine through the cells, perks up the microbes, and creates a little bit of homemade electricity.

Of course, there are several questions to be answered, like “Why?” and “Could I use Mountain Dew instead?” As for the second question, we don’t have an answer, but the first is actually rather important. While the socks don’t create a lot of energy, they spark enough to allow a small wireless transmitter to work. Therefore, if you were, say, a soldier lost in a desert without communication devices, you could potentially transmit a signal back to your base for a rescue.

Another pressing question is “Do you really have to stand there and pee on your own feet?” And the answer is, hopefully not in the future.

While scientists haven’t cracked the code yet, the idea is to develop a suit that would funnel enough urine into the socks without having to get in any awkward pin-up positions. Speaking to journalists at New Scientist, team leader Ioannis Ieropoulos said ““We envisage gear or clothing that already has or could have excretion incorporated, without people having to worry about collecting or handling their urine…With a bit of imagination, it is not difficult to see how this could be part of smart textiles for more general use.”

Smart clothing does seem to be a big focus of modern scientific development, and hats off to these scientists for thinking outside the box- or bathroom. Honestly, though, we’re still astonished by those hoodies that have speakers, so this new development may take a while to get used to in daily life.

(Image via Twitter)