Cell phones are rampant in the world–in 2010 there were over 5 billion cell phones in the world. And 5 billion cell phones means there are 5 billion cell phone chargers, if not more. Anyone who has used a cell phone charger knows that it is not uncommon to keep your charger plugged in all night, an act that wastes electricity. But what if there was an alternative that did not require plugging in or electricity at all? An alternative that does not rely on the sun like solar power does.
CNET recently shared an interesting story of a Kenyan Inventor, 24-year-old Anthony Mutua, who has created a recharging sneaker that can charge your cell phone. The design, which was sponsored by Kenya’s National Council of Science and Technology, has been patented and is speculated to be in production soon. The concept is simple: As the user walks (and thereby creates pressure), energy that can be used to charge cell phones is created.
The sneaker, which will be presented at the Kenyan Science Technology and Innovation Week in Nairobi, has a thin crystal chip that generates the power. The shoe can allegedly charge phones via a long cable to a pocket while the user walks or store power for later charging, can charge power for several phones and can be transferred to another shoe as well.
Mutua told CNC World:
“This charger works using pressure, as you walk you generate pressure that in turn generates energy, once you have arrived where you were going you can now sit down and charge your mobile phone.”
So what kind of shoes can implement this technology? Evidently with any design except for bathroom slippers. (I would also assume flip flops would be in this category as well.)
But this technology is nothing new. Last year PCMag.com reported that Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor, electrical engineering researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have invented a “footwear-embedded energy harvester” that can convert mechanical energy into electric charge. Krupenkin and Taylor’s invention involves a scientific principle called electrowetting–specifically, reversing the principle. The device placed in the shoe can produce anywhere between one to 10 watts of energy.
While this technology may seem “in the future” and unnecessary, then know that it has been accepted that cell phone chargers–all electronic chargers in general–are inefficient and waste a lot of electricity as heat. So much so that California (the California Energy Commission to be exact) approved the nation’s first energy efficiency standards for chargers. The new energy efficient chargers will save Californians an estimated $306 million a year in electricity costs and enough electricity to power 350,000 homes for a year. And that’s just from efficient chargers–imagine the costs and electricity the world could save with chargers that do not require electricity.
With inefficient chargers floating around the world, one can only hope that more innovations are made for charging alternatives and that companies and researchers focus on creating one universal charger that would suffice for all electronics, whether it be your cell phone or your laptop.