Brother Industries has developed small vibration-powered generators that can replace AA and AAA batteries.

When the generator, which the company refers to as its "Vibration-Powered Generating Battery," is set inside a remote control, for example, it is possible to use the remote by shaking it to generate power.

"The new generator will semi-permanently eliminate the need to replace batteries and contribute to reducing the amount of waste," the company said in a prepared statement.

Brother Industries ensured the versatility of the generator by employing the shapes of commonly used batteries. When used with a low power consumption device such as a remote, the generator can replace a battery, the company said.

Researchers and companies for years have tinkered with ways to harness kinetic energy. Some of the ideas -- such as putting generators in dance floors or the boots of soldiers -- have been downright impractical because of the relatively low amounts of power generated. But in recent years, some companies have thought big and harnessed the power generated when, for example, 30-ton shipping containers get placed into the holds of ships.

Some have also tried to match the low power output with a low-power application: EnOcean, for instance, has a light switch that gets powered by the vibrations from a finger moving a lever. Last year at Ceatec in Japan, Hokuriko showed off an electronic writing pad that captured kinetic energy from the stylus. Piezoelectrics are the underlying mechanism here.

More on Brother's device at TechOn.