by Chris Clavio and Ruben Olguin

SolePower employs the piezoelectric effect to generate electricity from the human kinetic energy. By capturing accessible human energy and transforming it into electricity, SolePower enables us to leverage the energy we expend everyday by using it to power our mobile devices. Currently there is no practical or widely available autonomous solution for harvesting the energy we expend during our daily activities. We also lack reliable backup systems for our power needs in the wilderness and during emergencies when there is no access to grid power.

This vulnerability was highlighted in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy, which left the East Coast of the United States powerless for weeks and gave citizens no reliable way to charge their phones. Current backup solutions either require us to actively expend our energy in inefficient ways, as with the shake light, or are limited by environmental conditions, as with solar.

By using piezoelectric fiber composites, we are able to create a reliable solution that is not only autonomous but functions using the passive energy we create by walking and running. SolePower’s goal is to create a practical survival solution as well as a launching point for a conversation around the way our we currently generate, access, and transport electricity.

The technology that makes up SolePower consists of three main components, piezoelectric ceramic strips, an energy harvesting circuit, and a lithium-ion battery, which are all embedded in the outsole of a shoe. After a commute, the battery is easily removed and can be used to charge a smartphone or mobile device via a standard USB connection.