Friday 23 February 2018

You could soon charge your smartphone by walking

InStep NanoPower
InStep NanoPower

Emma Clark

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed technology that is capable of powering technology as you walk.

We're encouraged to take 10,000 steps per day, but it can be difficult to work up the motivation to do so. It may be more tempting in the future if these shoes that charge your smartphone as you walk take off.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created the technology, which uses the kinetic energy of you walking to generate electricity. At the moment, it is capable of creating up to 10 watts of power per square metre walked, but it's believed that it could one day hit 10kW. For reference, charging a smartphone only requires around 2 watts.

The University explains: "The researchers' bubbler device — which contains no moving mechanical parts — consists of two flat plates separated by a small gap filled with a conductive liquid. The bottom plate is covered with tiny holes through which pressurized gas forms bubbles. The bubbles grow until they're large enough to touch the top plate, which causes the bubble to collapse."

"The speedy, repetitive growth and collapse of bubbles pushes the conductive fluid back and forth, generating electrical charge."

Before we can power our handsets by going for a stroll, InStep NanoPower needs to commercialise the technology and find some way of connecting a smartphone to the shoes. But the company is looking to put the technology out there now.

You can see the general principle in action below as a demonstrator powers up a flashlight at walking pace.

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