Everyone is by now familiar with the idea of using computers’ spare processing capacity to solve the problems associated with folding proteins or detection of extra-terrestrial intelligences.
Today’s invention attempts to make use of a different distributed resource: energy.
Ethernet cable can deliver power to a computer at a rate of about 30 Watts. The lithium-ion battery in a laptop can deliver power to its machine at about half that rate. How about making use of some of the energy stored in the batteries of (wired) networked computers, when not actively being used and reverse the flow of energy?
Each inactive laptop could (just about) power an energy efficient lightbulb, although they would be better used en masse, with the agreement of users, to smooth out sudden, local energy demands. This could lead to more efficient operation of the hard-pressed electrical networks by using that other electrical grid, the internet.