Gallery: Shoe Generator Harvests Power from Walking

 

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.

+ Louisiana Tech University

Via ScienceDaily

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4 Comments

  1. Gilberto Russel December 9, 2010 at 4:48 am

    I’ll tell you why, because if you really need that extra touch in service, albeit damm near a personal concierge at your fingertips, you should pay for the best. THAT’S WHY!

  2. bioinspiration September 26, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Great !?
    A shoe needs to absorb energy if you are walking on a road – otherwise it jars, and this shoe may be a great solution to capturing what would otherwise be lost as heat. Normally the problem is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics – i.e. this is not free energy that would otherwise have been wasted. Presumably it takes more energy to walk in energy capturing shoes as they weigh more and they absorb kinetic energy? And… if the person walking fuels themselves with food from the other side of the planet… You get the point. Same with harnessing energy from cars in roads. To capture the energy of passing cars the road would have to give slightly – taking more energy to drive over, like walking in sand. So the traffics lights are indirectly fuelled by petrol, probably extremely inefficiently. A solution would be to make car wheels solid and the road from energy absorbing materials – so you still have the comfort as a driver but the road absorbs the bumps rather than the wheels. Or make cars more like trams – then there’s no bumps in the first place.

    Call me pedantic :) But I think we should always do our efficiency and impact assessments before hailing an innovation as friendly.

  3. 6 Inspiring Examples of... September 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    [...] Shoe Generator Harvests Power from Walking [...]

  4. stever May 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Similar devices need to be developed to take advantage of auto traffic. I can imagine generators at intersections that would power the traffic lights.

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