If you pound the pavement every day for your commute or just a little exercise, you can use some of your stride to power your electronic devices. The SolePower is a shoe insole that allows the wearer to generate electricity as they move. Able to be slipped into a piece of footwear, the system runs a wire to a rechargeable battery worn around the ankle or clipped to the shoe. Power is generated and stored as you stroll and can later be used to charge phones, GPS units, music players, and other gadgets. Using mechanical linkages and generators, the SolePower works much like a smaller, slimmer version of a hand-cranked flashlight.
While generating electricity from kinetic energy is nothing new, the SolePower is one of the first personal devices ready for mass production. During testing, the team of Carnegie Mellon students who invented the insole found that it took two to five miles of walking to fully charge an iPhone. With a little tweaking, they hope to reduce the distance to two and a half miles. Analyzed by podiatrists, the insert does not interfere with normal motion, and it is waterproof to prevent damage from rain or moisture from sweat. A matching insole is provided for the other foot so that the wearer does not feel lopsided. Great for hikers or first responders who do not have access to the grid, the invention could be a way to recapture a little expended energy to juice up gear without needing an outlet.
The SolePower does have a few drawbacks, namely that it cannot accommodate weights over 350lbs or come in a size smaller than a women’s 8. Everything is built in a shop in Pittsburgh, and to help those living in developing nations, the team plans to launch a buy-one-send-one program. The SolePower is taking donations through Kickstarter, and a contribution of $100 will snag you an ambling accessory. The first units should be available by late 2014.