Video: Shoe Inserts Harvest Energy to Power Devices

Elizabeth Montalbano

September 24, 2013

3 Min Read
Video: Shoe Inserts Harvest Energy to Power Devices

Remember how startup Pavegen has designed floor tiles to harness the power of footsteps to keep the lights on at the 2012 Summer Olympics and generate energy at the Paris marathon?

Now a company called SolePower wants to give individuals this same power with a waterproof insole that can be swapped between different pairs of shoes, allowing people to store energy from their own footsteps through patent-pending energy-harvesting technology.

"The device is designed to capture the force that is created when your heel impacts the ground," David Davitian, a marketing intern at SolePower, told Design News in an email. "The device uses that force to spin a small generator which produces electricity. That electricity is wired out of the insert into a battery that is inside the external battery pack, which is attached to your shoe or to your ankle via the ankle strap."

Company founders Matthew Stanton and Hahna Alexander came up with the idea as students at Carnegie-Mellon University, designing the insoles for their capstone project there. They created the company in September 2012 to commercialize the technology.

While harvesting energy through footsteps by using devices in shoes isn't new, current inventions build the harvester directly into the shoe itself. SolePower aims to give people more footwear flexibility by allowing people to use the insole in different shoes, according to its founders.

The company posted this video online demonstrating how the SolePower technology works:

SolePower successfully funded the project through a Kickstarter campaign in July.

SolePower ultimately aims to solve the universal problem of charging devices like mobile phones, GPS, cameras, and the like where there is no or limited access to power. Even as researchers work to improve the lifespan and lower the recharging time of the lithium-ion batteries that power most devices, recharging is still the key dilemma day-to-day devices have. It would be a real game-changer to have this type of power in the sole of your shoe, accessible any time you want it.

SolePower is initially targeting outdoor enthusiasts who may spend a lot of time away from power outlets but still want to charge their devices. However, the technology also has applications for the military, people living in energy-poor regions of the world, and, of course, even the average everyday device user, Davitian told us:

"The long term goal is to make this technology useful for everyone. This means to be able to generate significant amounts of power with routine daily walking, such as walking to class, to the store, or exploring a local park. So our long term goal is allowing everyone to be able to create their own portable energy seamlessly."

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About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Montalbano

Elizabeth Montalbano has been a professional journalist covering the telecommunications, technology and business sectors since 1998. Prior to her work at Design News, she has previously written news, features and opinion articles for Phone+, CRN (now ChannelWeb), the IDG News Service, Informationweek and CNNMoney, among other publications. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she also has lived and worked in Phoenix, Arizona; San Francisco and New York City. She currently resides in Lagos, Portugal. Montalbano has a bachelor's degree in English/Communications from De Sales University and a master's degree from Arizona State University in creative writing.

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