By Mike Pomranz
Updated December 08, 2015

For the average person, watching a cup of coffee go cold is frustrating because coffee is supposed to be hot. But for scientists, there’s another frustration: you’re wasting energy. Precious energy was used to heat that coffee up and now it’s simply dissipating into the atmosphere.

But what if that dissipating energy could be harnessed and used for something else? A couple of students at the Copenhagen School of Interaction Design believe it’s possible – or at least on its way to being possible.

“Heat Harvest” – a concept put together by Sergey Komardenkov and Vihanga Gore – would be a pad that captures the heat given off from everyday objects like a cup of coffee or a warm laptop and recycles this energy into electricity. Imagine a table at Starbucks that recharges phones based on all the heat radiating from drinks and laptop. Heat Harvest could work in a similar manner.

As Smithsonian points out, though the idea is still speculative, the technology necessary for such recycling of thermoelectric energy actually does already exist. “[We] treat this idea as a conversation starter,” said Komardenkov. Apparently the conversation he’s trying to start is “Let’s discuss how much of a genius I am.”