There’s an interesting installation at a playground near my home. It is a small play area consisting of nine square brass tiles with chimes embedded beneath them. Kids love this section of the park, and as they hop around on the squares, the chimes create a magical noise. Watching those kids dance I wondered, What if those squares generated energy? Harnessing the power of little feet is an idea that has already been tapped into. Elizabeth Redmond’s POWERleap concept tiles do exactly that.
First showcased in 2007 as part of Metropolis magazine’s Next Generation design competition, POWERleap has developed “a flooring system that converts wasted energy from human foot traffic into electricity.” The magic behind the work is “piezoelectric technology and advanced circuitry design,” which converts pitter-patter into power. “While each individual footstep does not produce a significant amount of power, multiplied by the stampede of 5th Avenue shoppers, [or students at recess] POWERleap can generate significant amounts of electricity.”
“The project is not about hiding the infrastructure, it’s interactive, playful, flirtatious, and exciting,” said Redmond in a Metropolis magazine interview. “I am calling on all humans to become responsible and sustainable self-generators for the ?communal grid.” And even humanity’s youngest members can contribute while having fun. POWERleap is still in development, and there’s no talk of adding music to the tiles, but I’d certainly like to see them in my local playground some day.