Converting human movement into electricity and making use of some of the energy generated during the impact of the foot while walking or running is very appealing.
Two physicists from the applied research, technology and sensory branch of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego have patented an energy-harvesting device that could potentially give service members the power to charge their own batteries while out in the field. Doctors Bill McKnight and Wayne McGinnis have invented a device that could be developed into a shoe that would harvest energy from walking. "Calculations indicate that a 150-pound person walking at a brisk pace would generate something on the order of five watts of power that could be collected using energy harvesting devices built into the walkers shoe," said McKnight.
Industrial designer Alberto Villarreal from Mexico has designed BrightWalk, a human powered self illuminating shoe that houses electroluminescent polymers powered by piezoelectric generators. Piezoelectric devices are placed in the sole of the shoe and generate electricity whenever they are bent or pulled. The electroluminescent polymers produce light under an electric stimulus and brighten without generating much heat. The system is lightweight and easily integrated into shoes so that the energy generated by running or walking is converted into useable electricity. Villarreal said in an interview that BrightWalk is "More than being a light source for the runner to see his path, it is a way for one to be seen on the road at night."
Heely shoes, which are very popular with the younger generation, house a wheel in the rear of the heel. Artists Christian Croft and Kate Hartman altered a pair of Heelys and used the wheels to generate electricity. The electricity harvested from rolling powers a microcomputer and LCD display embedded on the shoe to deliver directions using arrows and text on the embedded screen. Depending on the speed of rolling, a directive appears on the screen every 15 to 20 feet. The artists hope the project will promote discussion on sustainable energy development and alternative transportation design. Perhaps a more useful application would be shoes embedded with a GPS to help wandering Alzheimer patients.
Heelys altered to generate electricity
Japanese telecommunications company NTT claims that it is developing shoes that generate 1.2 watts of electricity - enough to power an iPod continuously as long as the wearer keeps walking. These shoes do not store energy but are useful for powering small devices on the go.
NTT's electricity generating shoe
Source: Clean Technica
With many different angles on the development of energy harvesting shoes it might not be long before we have a new generation of army servicemen, and members of the public, who can charge any electronic device just by walking. Please let us know your experiences in airport security though.
Top Image source: The Movers' Choice
For more attend: Energy Harvesting & Storage USA 2009