SolePower: Solving the Mobile Energy Problem

by Shannon O’Neill

Advancements in technology, specifically in handheld devices and portable electronics, are increasing at a rapid rate. Because battery technology and advancements have been moving at a much slower rate, the use of these devices has been limited to their battery life. This issue motivated engineering students from Carnegie Melon University to develop SolePower, a rechargeable battery that is powered and charged when the user walks.

A special insole (or “ensole, for energy insole) is placed in the user’s shoe. The mechanism inside the insole is able to capture the kinetic energy produced when walking, which is then used to spin an electromagnetic generator as fast and as long as possible. The power created is then stored in an energy pack, which can be stored on top of the user’s shoe or on the users ankle. This energy pack can then be hooked up to cell phones or other portable devices and used a portable battery. Currently, an hour walking provides enough energy to sustain two and a half hours of talk time on a cell phone, with a walk between two and a half to five miles providing a full charge to an iPhone. Continue reading