Photo courtesy of lusi
These shoes were made for walking–and for producing power. A researcher at Louisiana Tech University designed a shoe that contains a small generator in its sole. When the shoe-wearer moves, it generates a piezoelectric charge, which is then converted into electricity for charging batteries or powering small electronics in real time. The designer hopes the shoe can eventually create clean, renewable electricity to charge portable devices like sensors, GPS units and cell phones.
Ville Kaajakari, an electrical engineer, designed the shoe. And while other kinetic energy-harvesting devices exist, Kaajakari’s shoe makes use of a new technology. Conventional power-harvesting tech uses ceramic transducers, which are hard and rigid. Kaajakari employed a low-cost, polymer transducer, a soft, flexible material that replaces the shoe’s heel shock absorber without sacrificing user experience.
The tech is still being perfected, but Kaajakari says he thinks it will be especially useful for folks without access to the grid, like hikers. The device can currently produce enough power to juice sensors, RF transponders and GPS receivers, but the designer hopes to optimize the technology enough to charge products like cell phones.