Smart-City Technology Harvests Energy From Footsteps
These tiles can harvest energy -- up to 8 watts per footstep -- that can be stored and used to power streetlights or other infrastructure in urban areas where there is significant footfall. (Source: Pavegen)
If these tiles are able to recover that much energy per footstep then it must be taking more effort to walk on them, since the energy can only be coming from one source, the walkers. While running on "bouncy" ground is more comfortable it does take more effort. Captured energy has to come from someplace, after all.
Another interesting thought is that if the sidewalk tiles communicate with something else they could probably serve to notify somebody that people are walking past, which might be a law enforcement concern if people were detected walking in some areas late at night.
Elizabeth –Your point of "high-profile" installations, while still being in relative infancy is precisely what piqued my interest. As this was your article, I trust you also have them on YOUR radar --- so do you have any information for small investors getting on this band-wagon-?
Another good point, Rob. The tiles also could be good for the waistline! Although like I said, I don't think it's going to be too much give. I actually think it could be quite a nice cushion for the feet. When I used to run a lot, I liked running on sponge-like surfaces as opposed to concrete. It was quite nice to take that pressure off the joints.
Yes, Jim, you're right that there are proprietary rights here, and the company did not want to divulge too much information about how the tiles were engineered, as they are still in the early stages of technological development. I'm sure you won't hear the last about this technology, though, so stay tuned for more. I do think it's quite innovative and has great potential, and with the high-profile installations that already have been done, I think it can only get better.
Debera – I've also seen those devices that were designed to provide power from footsteps. But each of them (I've seen several) always provided power to the individual, supplying partial power for the various appliances you mention, "on the body".
This idea shifts the paradigm to a much broader target market. Using literally millions of pedestrians to power municipalities' needs. Interesting how a simple change of perspective changes this "existing" concept into something new.
Reminds me of something Mr. Spock once said: "comparing the needs of the one to the needs of the many".
I often am skeptical about the real potential for new ideas to go platinum, (so to speak), but I agree -- O'Hare terminal, or the Manhattan sidewalk are energy sources just waiting to be harnessed. So, while there were many engineering points not clarified, I accept that's their proprietary right as the technology is being developed. I decided to dig a little deeper; not so much to investigate the technology, but more to see how I could invest in it. I learned they are still privately funded, but I'm going to put them on my radar. ( I missed DSL in the 90's and 3DP in the 2000's). This could be huge.
I think there would have to be some give in order to generate the energy. A little give may not be a walking problem. Actually a little give will help walkers burn more calories, much like running in sand, but not to that extreme.
Wearables are changing the way we see ourselves. With onboard sensors that have access to our bodies, we are starting to know our physical selves like never before, quantifying our activity, our heart rate, breathing, and even our muscle effort.
This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
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