Sneaker Power

sneaker power

just think about how much energy you waste when you pound your heels into the ground while walking or jogging.  you exert a lot of effort fighting gravity to lift your foot and body from the ground, only to let gravity take over, allowing your body to fall forward onto your heel again and wear another layer from the sole of your sneaker.

the kind folks at the mit media lab decided to do something about this.  by placing a piezoelectric element or a rotary magnetic generator into the heel of your shoe, you can effectively recycle some of your strut and use it for a mobile device.

it’s like regenerative braking for your feet.

23 thoughts on “Sneaker Power

  1. zzzz, the holes in the soles of my vans would suggest that there is plenty of waste energy. think about your standard gait. like you mentioned, the leg swings like a pendulum, and then you fall forward and drop all of your weight to your heel, your shoe, and the ground beneath.

    if there was better conservation of energy, you wouldn’t need to exert any effort to take the next step.

    on the other hand, you’re probably right in that a lot of shoe science has gone into recycling this energy in other ways. i’m assuming the idea behind the nike airs was to conserve some of that energy and push your heel back up like a trampoline.

    oh, and the see through bubbles look cool.

  2. I’m not sure that they are really trying to use waste energy. The site calls it “Parasitic Power” which is what it really is. You don’t notice the extra energy required to move the device because it is relatively small compared to the amount of energy required to walk.

    If they had replaced the shock absorbing sole with something that converted the energy into electricity instead of heat then they would have been using otherwise wasted energy.

  3. It’s a cool idea, but let’s not kid anyone: they’re not harvesting energy otherwised wasted. You still waste the same amount of energy each step. Their device just makes you put a little more energy into it. In fact, any inefficiency in the device (and there will be some, by law) means that you actually waste more energy walking than before. But I guess the idea is you don’t notice it, at least not while you’re preoccupied with not getting your ass kicked for being such a dork.

  4. Well, this isn’t an original idea… anyone ever heard of z-coils? They are a shoe that has a giant spring under the heel with a piece of rubber sole attached to the bottom. The U.S. Dept. of Energy certifies that they give a 50% return on the energy expended while taking a step. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, but who wants a giant spring under their heel? That would look like crap…”. Well, they have at least one pair of BOOTS that have a sort of enclosure around the heel (perfect for working in a shop and not catching on cords, hoses etc.) so they don’t look like total crap. just google z-coil…

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