SOLEPOWER: FOOTWEAR THAT CHARGES YOUR SMARTPHONE WHILE YOU’RE ON THE GO
SolePower is just what it sounds like – an insole that converts your every step into electricity.
So how does it work? It’s pretty straight forward, even for someone without an electrical engineering degree (me).
You generate power as you walk or run by starting a small generator that spins to create electricity. A very thin cable then transports this electricity to the PowerPac (the external storage component), using a detachable connector. Then charge your smartphone by connecting it to the PowerPac’s USB port.
One hour of walk time provides bout 2.5 hours of talk time on a smartphone. And one of the great things about SolePower is that it doesn’t depend on external conditions. So be it day or night, rain or shine, your phone will always have a charger on the run.
The story behind SolePower goes back to 2011, when a group of mechanical engineers studying at Carnegie Mellon University were told by their professor to make a product that would benefit students on campus. The result was an energy-harvesting shoe with embedded LED lights. That project earned the students an ‘A’, but two of the group’s members went on to found SolePower.
After tweaking the design, SolePower was put on Kickstarter and gained over 600 backers (and $60K) in 45 days.
SolePower is popular with hiking and outdoorsy people, but there’s also talk about using this technology in the military.
“Soldiers rely heavily on various devices while in the field, but just like a smartphone, portable military devices are limited by battery life,” says Hahna Alexander, co-creator of SolePower. “The consequences of a dead battery are significantly more severe in the field, so soldiers carry up to 20 pounds of backup batteries. The U.S. military is actively trying to find ways to decrease that load. Our technology is among the ones they see as having great potential.”
Pledges on Kickstarter hovered around the $US100 mark back in mid-2013, which might deter a lot of people from purchasing the insoles now, since you can buy external battery packs for $20 elsewhere. But wearing something that charges up your devices? Surely that’s priceless when you’re on-the-go.
SolePower is currently on pre-order and interested parties can get on the waitlist here.