May 02, 2014, 5:23 PM — Despite warnings that sitting all day at technical and office jobs is bad for your health, most of you know you spend a lot of time out of the chair, walking or running around looking for people or things or heading to meetings. You can rack up some serious distance just hustling around the office.
SolePower, a startup by two former Carnegie Mellon University students, aims to harness all that kinetic energy and put it back in your electronic devices, be they phones, tablets or a GPS. Their self-titled product is a power-generating shoe insole that captures the power of a step and converts it into usable energy for your electronics.
The concept is not all that far removed from the regenerative braking system found in the Prius and Tesla cars, where the energy generated by braking is used to recharge the car's batteries. You cut a SolePower insole to fit just like any regular replacement for your shoes or sneakers. SolePower says its insoles meet podiatrist recommendations for size and comfort and are all-weather and water resistant. They better be.
In the heel of the insole is a drivetrain that converts the energy of heel strikes into rotational energy, spinning magnetic rotors. The motion of the rotors induces an electrical current within coils of wire, which are then sent to the battery.
The battery is a small device that is mounted on the top of the shoe where the laces are placed. You then remove the power back from your shoe and connect it to the device with a USB cable to recharge it.
This has won SolePower the Popular Science Invention Award for 2014. The company has also raised $60,000 through Kickstarter. Through further funding, the company has managed to raise a total of $300,000.
SolePower's target market is not the office worker, but outdoor enthusiasts like hikers, backpackers, and campers. They expect to expand beyond that as the insoles grow in popularity. It hopes to ship either in the fourth quarter of this year or first quarter of next year. The price will be between $175 and $225.