Innovators keep on searching restlessly for ways to use the huge amount of energy we are generating while going after our daily business.
Especially while walking a great amount of energy is generated with each step we take, a fascinating but technically very challenging wearable power area many have tried to explore.
A recently news release by the Louisiana Tech University is talking about a power shoe developed by Dr. Ville Kaajakari, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the Louisiana Tech University.
The technology Dr. Ville Kaajakari developed is based on new voltage regulation circuits which are capable to efficiently convert a piezoelectric charge into usable voltage.
Piezoelectric material usually generates very low voltage and current which is one of the reason that this technology is a bit stuck when it comes to ‘sensible’ applications.
Dr. Ville Kaajakari’s invention uses a low-cost polymer transducer that has metalized surfaces for electrical contact making it highly suitable for the use in shoes or clothing as the polymer-based generator is soft and robust unlike conventional ceramic transducers which are stiff and brittle.
What would be a ‘sensible’ use of power generated with and inside a shoe? First comes to my mind running sensors like the Nike+ or simple step counter, sensors that do not need huge amount of electricity.
If the power generating efficiency turns out to be high enough to power RF transponders or even GPS receivers we could have trackable shoes, maybe interesting for expeditions into the unknown, military or having our running shoes recording the off-the-trail run.