A group of Rice University mechanical engineering students recently created a pair of energy-generating shoes that are able to create and store electricity with every step. The team’s kinetic energy-harvesting PediPower shoes could be used to power portable electronics and medical devices.
Pedipower shoes were developed by Carlos Armada, Julian Castro, David Morilla and Tyler Wiest, who call themselves the Agitation Squad. The Rice University students developed the shoe-mounted generator for their senior year project. Working with the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, the team developed a system that harnesses force generated at the heel while walking.
“We went to the lab and saw the force distribution across the bottom of your foot, to see where the most force is felt,” Morilla said in a statement. “We found it would be at the heel and at the balls of your toes, as you push off. We went with the heel because, unless you’re sprinting, you’re letting gravity do the work.”
While the prototypes are currently a bit unwieldy, they are able to deliver an average of 400 milliwatts, which is enough to charge a belt-mounted battery pack. The Pedipower system is designed to hit the ground before any other part of the shoe, activating the gearbox and generating energy.
“If we could prove that we could produce some usable power, store it in a battery and discharge that battery on a mobile device or an MP3 player, then we could prove this device works,” Armada said. “Now the next team can come in and make it smaller and lighter without sacrificing power.”