How wonderful would it be if we could harvest power from the act of walking? Well German researchers have found a way of using technology to power wearable electronic sensors without the need for batteries.
How it works is that the device exploits the motion between magnets and coils to generate power. The shoe then detects when a user has stepped into it and lace itself up, as well as open up again when required. The swing harvester was developed with the intention of making a self-lacing shoe for the elderly.
With a shock harvester sitting snugly in the sole, the smart shoe is explained further in the journal Smart Materials and Structures which states that there are two separate devices: a “shock harvester” that generates power when the heel strikes the ground and a “swing harvester” that produces power when the foot is swinging.
From the horses mouth Klevis Ylli, from HSG-IMIT, a research centre in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany explains, “We have tried to power a wireless transmitter and to power a simple sensor”. Ylli continues, “One application we are working on is indoor navigation which means we have sensors within the shoe that measure the acceleration of the foot, the angular velocity – whether you’re turning the foot or not – and the magnetic field.
“From the data from these sensors, you could calculate how far you have travelled and in which direction. So imagine a rescue unit walking into a building they don’t know. They could then track which way they went on their handheld device.”