We all expend energy every time we move, so why not capture some of it and put it to use charging our devices? That’s what a group of engineering students at Rice University did with their PediPower shoes, a prototype device that can generate electricity through the motion of the wearer.
After being approached by a Houston-based company, Cameron, to look toward “microscale green energy technologies”, a group of four students, dubbed The Agitation Squad, designed and built a successful shoe-mounted generator for their required university project, which, while not ready for primetime, showed potential for further development.
The prototype uses a lever arm on the outside of the shoe, which is depressed upon striking the ground, and then in turn a gearbox and generator that can send electricity up to a belt-mounted battery pack through a voltage regulator. The PediPower delivered an average of 400 mW in bench tests, which could be sufficient for battery charging, although plenty of work is needed before it is small and efficient enough to be practical.
“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. Now the next team can come in and make it smaller and lighter without sacrificing power.” – Carlos Armada
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