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Even the rattiest sneaker can become an energy-harvesting powerhouse, thanks to an ultrathin crystal chip that converts footfalls into electricity. Developed by Anthony Mutua, a recent graduate of Mombasa Polytechnic University College, the device generates a charge large enough to power a cellphone when it’s subjected to pressure, say from the act of walking or running. The technology is so promising, in fact, that Kenya’s National Council of Science and Technology, which funded Mutua’s prototype, is bankrolling its commercial production. “This and the possibility of a bigger market could eventually bring down the purchase price,” Mutua, who currently charges 3,800 Kenyan shillings ($44) per fitting, told the Daily Nation.

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THE RIGHT MOVES

The chip can be inserted into the soles of most types of footwear, with the exception of bathroom slippers, according to Mutua. It’s also transferable from one pair of shoes to another, in case the first pair wears out.

The chip can be inserted into the soles of most types of footwear, with the exception of bathroom slippers.

David Ngigi, a senior science secretary with the National Council for Science and Technology, said the group is helping Mutua commercialize his product. “We have been financing the development of ideas to prototype levels, but because most innovators lack funds for commercialization, [these] innovations never reach the market,” he said. “So we are changing this.”

[Via Springwise]