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SolePower Puts Energy Harvester in Your Shoes

Could you walk your way to a full battery charge? If you had a pair of these insoles in your shoes, you just might be able to.

Producing energy from the movement of our own body is not a new idea, as a common bicycle generator demonstrates, but adding an energy harvesting device to something we do in our daily routines, without interrupting our natural flow, has not gotten a lot of attention.

But lately we’ve seen some renewed interest in it, such as the PediPower, from students at Rice University, and PaveGen floor tiles show.

The latest approach is to put a power-generating device inside the insole of the shoe, so no matter what shoes you’re wearing, you’ll still be able to have your portable power.

The SolePower insole can be used to charge small and portable electronic devices, such as phones, MP3 players, or GPS units, by harvesting the energy of both the swing of the foot in each step as well as the impact of the foot on the ground.

The energy is stored in a small battery unit that can be strapped to the ankle or the toe of the shoe, and then removed to easily charge your devices. SolePower estimates that it takes about 2.5 (up to 5) miles of walking to fully charge an iPhone with the device, and that their waterproof and weather-resistant insoles will last for millions and millions of steps.

According to SolePower, it’s this easy to use:

  1. Slip SolePower into your shoe and snake the charging wire through your laces.
  2. Plug the charging wire into the battery. The battery can either be fastened around your ankle or clipped to the top of your shoe.
  3. Walk!
  4. Unplug the battery from the insole and plug it into your device.
  5. Stop to ponder how lucky you are to have a mobile, back up power source that can be used anywhere, anytime!

The project, currently in a crowdfunding phase, grew out of a senior mechanical engineering design project at Carnegie Mellon University, which developed a prototype for a device to light up shoes (for better visibility at night). According to their Kickstarter page, they saw that the bigger, more universal, need was generating power, which would help solve many other issues.

SolePower is still in a beta/testing/fundraising stage, so if this type of mobile charging technology appeals to you, you can chip in right here.

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