InStepNanoPower Charges Your Cell Phone While You Walk

September 13, 2011

10:23 am

Redefining what it really means to go on a “power walk,” InStepNanoPower has developed prototype shoes that harvest energy as their wearers walk around. The energy captured is enough to power portable electronic gadgets like your cell phone.

More and more companies are developing technology to solve the problem of charging mobile devices on-the-go. Back in July, we covered the Orange Sound Charge t-shirt that uses sound to charge your mobile phone. This followed the company’s successful run in producing eco-charging devices such as 2010’s Power Wellies, boots that used a power generating sole to keep phones juiced up.

Similar to the Wellies, the InStepNanoPower prototype converts the mechanical energy produced by humans during walking – normally lost as heat – into electrical power for your wireless electronics. What makes InStepNanoPower’s inexpensive, high-power energy harvester different is that it’s capable of providing a whopping 20 watts of electricity.

Called reverse electrowetting, the shoes use a micro-fluidic device made up of thousands of micro-droplets that move past an innovative nanotechnology-based thin film. This motion of the droplets is converted into an electronic current.

The harvester has an integrated rechargeable battery, which serves as energy storage. That means that the shoes would accumulate all the energy you generate while walking – so you can access this energy even at rest.

According to Tom Krupenkin, President of InStepNanoPower, the majority of cell phone battery drainage is due to transmitting and receiving data over long-range RF communications. InStepNanoPower’s technology solves this problem by relieving batteries from having to communicate over long distances.

The technology is equipped with an integrated Wi-Fi hot spot that acts as a middleman between mobile devices and wireless networks. This new Wi-Fi arrangement significantly reduces the amount of power wireless devices consume, allowing them to operate for a much longer time without recharging.

Krupenkin says that the market for the technology is huge, with customers ranging from military personnel who need to keep their gadgets running in the field to people in developing countries who have inadequate access to electrical grids. InStepNanoPower hopes to partner with a footwear company within the next couple of years.

Learn more about the InStepNanoPower prototype here.

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Trisha Cruz is a Tech Cocktail intern with a passion for writing and design. She is a rising third year at the University of Virginia majoring in Media Studies and minoring in Studio Art. Follow her at: @heytrisha

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