Power Up With Your Shoes? New Material Pulls Kinetic Energy from Your Kicks
Image via Louisiana Tech University
The idea of getting our feet to produce power for our gadgets is not new. Inventors have been working on the concept for years, with some surprisingly impractical results. However, as technology gets better for piezoelectric energy generation, scientists are hoping to create some sneakers that do more than just get you from place to place. While some research is looking at the material used in shoes and clothing, others are focusing on what goes inside. Dr. Ville Kaajakari, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, is developing a technology to gather energy with a generator embedded in the sole of a shoe.According to Louisiana Tech University, the technology is based on new voltage regulation circuits that can convert a piezoelectric charge into usable voltage for charging batteries or for directly powering electronics. The target audience is anyone who needs a charge on the go, like hikers who might require an extra battery boost for emergency location devices or GPS units.
Dr. Kaajakari's research is getting attention from MEMS Investor Journal, a national online industry publication, which means entrepreneurs with investment capital will be in the know about the project. And, LTU states that Dr. Kaajakari's breakthrough uses a cheap material that is soft and robust, matching the properties of regular shoe fillings. This way, users could have energy-gathering shoes without even noticing the difference. However, we aren't sure what really makes this one different from all the other attempts to gather kinetic energy, which is notorious for not being worth the effort.
"Ultimately, we want to bring up the power levels up to a point where we could, in addition to sensors, charge or power other portable devices such as cell phones," states Dr. Kaajakari. However, odds of that actually happening are slim, at least in the near future.
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