Mobile-charging shoes

NanopowerThis article first appeared on October 20th, 2011.


The nightmare of your mobile phone running out of power mid conversation could be over.


Scientists say they can turn the spring in your step into the power in your mobile phone by harvesting the kinetic energy from walking.


Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have invented a device that, once placed in a shoe, captures the energy of moving microscopic liquid droplets and converts it to electrical current.


Two small pouches, placed in the bottom of a shoe, are filled with the fluid and generate a current whenever they are compressed by the foot’s motion.


According to Professor Tom Krupenkin, humans are generally “very powerful energy-producing machines” and can produce as much as a kilowatt of power while sprinting.


But transferring the energy – from a device in the foot to a phone in the hand – presents an obvious hurdle. The researchers suggest installing a wireless transmitter in the heel.


The researchers have taken the first step towards commercialising their invention by starting a company, InStep Nanopower. They’re now looking for a shoe manufacturer.


This invention could be the next big thing to hit the shelves – it’s worth looking into.


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