SolePower is an energy harvesting company bringing a power generating shoe insert to market. The technology is ideal for powering mobile electronic devices such as cell phones and GPS. Early adopters in the US will be outdoor enthusiasts and SolePower technology has additional applications in the military, developing nations, and other commercial markets.
SolePower patent-pending technology captures the energy in a step normally lost to the surrounding environment and converts it into usable electrical power. The mechanism is embedded within a waterproof insole that can be slipped into any shoe. The power generated is stored in an external battery and accessed via micro or mini USB ports. The user does not need to remove the insole, and does not need to attach their electronic devices to their footwear.
Energy harvesting is a viable solution for charging small scale mobile electronics. The heel strike portion of a human step expends a significant amount of energy normally lost to the surrounding environment. The idea of energy harvesting is to capture that energy and convert it to usable power.
The insert optimizes the energy in a user's step by producing power during both the impact and swing phases of a user's step. The entire device fits in the profile of an orthotic insert, and will be embedded within insole material so the user won't feel anything unusual. The device comes in two parts: the power generating insert that gets stepped on, and a battery holster that fits around your ankle and stores the power while you walk.
To actually get the power out of the shoe, all you do is remove one of the rechargeable batteries from the battery ankle holster and plug it into the normal charging port of your device. Anything that is USB compatible or has a USB adaptor can connect to the charged battery.
The founders developed the first prototype at Carnegie Mellon University, as part of their capstone mechanical engineering design project. The task was "design a product that solves a problem for students". The first prototype was demoed at CMU and in Washington D.C. and featured in local newspapers. SolePower was founded by Matthew Stanton and Hahna Alexander in September, 2012.
Source, video and top image: SolePower