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Handhelds Power Technology

Theoretical Shoe Inserts Could Power Your Gadgets 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the sole-source-of-energy dept.
In his first accepted submission, Anon8---) writes "As published on nature.com, a process called electrowetting, 'in which a conductive liquid droplet, placed on an electrode, is physically deformed by an applied electric charge,' could be used to provide 10 watts of juice to smartphones and other gadgets as you walk. 'The technique depends on the use of a dielectric material — which is usually an insulator but that can be polarized in an electric field — to coat the electrode. When the dielectric is charged the droplet can wet the surface more easily, and deforms. In his system, Krupenkin runs this process backwards, using the changing physical form of liquid drops between dielectric-coated plates to generate charge and therefore electrical power.' So far, Krupenkin and Ashley Taylor have been able to produce a few milliwatts of power along tiny channels a few millimeters wide. They have patented the idea and are now concentrating on scaling up the device and designing a shoe to contain it."
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Theoretical Shoe Inserts Could Power Your Gadgets

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  • by gatkinso (15975) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:04AM (#37219114)

    For obvious reasons.

    • The summary clearly states that the power is generated by theoretical shoe inserts. Therefore one only need to walk in theory to generate power.

  • by elcid73 (599126) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:06AM (#37219160) Homepage

    ...chargin'

    one of these days these boots are gonna charge your gadgets too.

  • Could they maybe put this in my chair? I don't think putting it in my shoes would do very much good.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      I read your sig and had an idea. /. needs stupid tagging. Not moderation, just a +1 stupid.or -1 stupid. let the most stupid comments rise to the top. Maybe some humiliation* will calm these people down.

      *HUMILIATION!

  • Parenting use. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:08AM (#37219182)
    I can see this being used to get kids off their asses and at least moving around some.
    Confiscate your child's phone charger, and make it so this is the only way they can charge said phone.
  • Warning: Blatantly stereotyped joke ahead. The easily offended should stop reading now.

    Okay, the rest of you: This is America! Forget shoes, we need to attach these things to forks!

    • by wsxyz (543068) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:52AM (#37219784)
      Comedy in 21st Century America:

      "Stop me if you've heard this one... disclaimer: this joke may be offensive to teachers, goats, bar owners, and priests... and to anyone related with or friends with, or otherwise associated with any of the above. Furthermore this joke involves subtle sexual innuendo. Anyone offended by sexual innuendo, especially that which involves teachers, goats, bar owners, and priests, may wish to refrain from listening to this joke. Furthermore, I wish to assure the audience that nothing in this joke is meant to imply support for any political ideology you may oppose, nor to imply opposition any political ideology you support... Now, as I was saying, a teacher and a priest walked into a bar..."
      • by ccguy (1116865)
        At the end of the joke remember to mention that both the teacher and the priest, as well as anyone else in the bar, are fictitious characters etc
      • by gsslay (807818)

        Stop me if you've heard this one

        I'm offended by your insensitive reference to hearing in a medium reliant only on sight. What makes you think your reader can hear anything? Why exclude deaf people? Insensitive clod.

  • They have patented the idea and are now concentrating on scaling up the device and designing a shoe to contain it

    Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (plus some of his older books as well) helped kill a patent for waterbeds IIRC. Perhaps Frank Herbert's Dune can be used to help kill this patent. Fremen stillsuit boots generated power from walking.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I know the USPTO is fucked up but I don't think even they'll make a decision on the basis of "a sci-fi writer once conceived of an object which did the same thing by a completely unexplained means".

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      I expect that the technology that enables this function would be patentable, and the technology is not described in any sort of detail in Frank Herbert. This is very much contrasted with Apple's Ipad patent which is just a guy holding a rectangle.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        Even then, Stanley Kubrick's production designers already came up with the same rectangle.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      That's not true.

    • Fremen stillsuit boots generated power from walking.

      No, Fremen stillsuit boots pumped water from walking. They didn't generate or store electricity.

      • by perpenso (1613749)

        Fremen stillsuit boots generated power from walking.

        No, Fremen stillsuit boots pumped water from walking. They didn't generate or store electricity.

        "... using the changing physical form of liquid drops ..." Not a pump but still pushing around water.

    • You don't patent fucking idea. You patent inventions. You patents processes.

      YOU DO NOT PATENT IDEAS

    • by westlake (615356)

      Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (plus some of his older books as well) helped kill a patent for waterbeds IIRC.

      Heinlein also wrote about near-light speed starships.

      You can't patent the idea. You can only patent the solution. The blueprint.

  • Hook this up to a robot and use the generated power to power the robot. Name the robot Perpetua.

  • or free energy. Why do people keep looking for ways to power stuff by (inefficiently) robbing it from other places? The last two posted here were shirts that flexed to power gadgets, and roads that had bumps in them to run road lighting.

    However you do this, (1) you're going to make something else require more energy, and (2) introducing additional energy loss due to conversion. In this case, if you put some material in the soles to gather mechanical energy it's just going to make your feet a little more

    • by ccguy (1116865)

      you're going to make something else require more energy

      Indeed. I see myself in a walk to vending machine - back to chair loop already.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      You're looking at the problem the wrong way. If you want people to power up their gizmos by using their chemical energy (which by all accounts they have too much of) then having them wear a pair of slightly inefficient shoes is more practical than giving them a hand crank and telling them to get on with it.

    • Oftentimes, the energy we "steal" from someplace else would have gone to waste anyway. Perhaps the energy here is normally dissipated as heat? If so, reclaiming it won't make you any more tired, and may even make you more comfortable.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      (1) That's ok. And to be pendantic, there are ways that capture waste energy. I mean, so I burn and extra 5 calories a mile? big deal.

      (2) again, That's ok. If I have to burn 20 watts worth of calories in order to get 10 watts, I'm OK with that.

      Look at dams: It takes less energy to build one, then you will get from them. Why? because it is exploiting a system outside itself, rain.

      Exploiting source outside the system, or source leaving the system as waste, is a good way to get energy.

      There is no free lunch, m

    • This device is below your foot, and doesn't require your foot to do crunches or anything. Your foot isn't going to get more tired. It works by using the already existing energy in the compression of your soles due to gravity and a humans need to lift a little with every step. Ths is actually the perfect place to get energy which is currently being wasted. You could potentially do something similar in a cars suspension or braking (it's already done in the braking in some cars, actually).

      I have to ask though:

    • or free energy. Why do people keep looking for ways to power stuff by (inefficiently) robbing it from other places? The last two posted here were shirts that flexed to power gadgets, and roads that had bumps in them to run road lighting.

      However you do this, (1) you're going to make something else require more energy, and (2) introducing additional energy loss due to conversion. In this case, if you put some material in the soles to gather mechanical energy it's just going to make your feet a little more tired.

      I see something of a relation between this and sales tax... sales taxes are applied to when you're already spending money and it just shaves a little off that doesn't look like it mattered too much. Same thing here, just making your commute a little more tiring with the idea that you won't really notice. Shoe power doesn't create energy any more than sales taxes create money.

      Not in all cases. I didn't RTFA, but if done correctly, no, this may not be as you are claiming. In the case of conventional brakes a lot of inertial energy is thrown away as heat. Regenerative brakes convert this energy into electricity (and considerably less heat). No extra useful energy is lost in this case. Plenty of shoes are designed with gel and other material that lessen the immediate.impact of walking. If some device or material can have this same effect but convert the motion into energy, then no

    • by ibwolf (126465)

      In this case, if you put some material in the soles to gather mechanical energy it's just going to make your feet a little more tired.

      Or more accurately you will need to burn a few extra calories, which, in the western world, is a good thing!

      If there is a surplus of energy that can be tapped that will otherwise go to waste, why not use it.

    • or free energy. Why do people keep looking for ways to power stuff by (inefficiently) robbing it from other places? The last two posted here were shirts that flexed to power gadgets, and roads that had bumps in them to run road lighting.

      However you do this, (1) you're going to make something else require more energy, and (2) introducing additional energy loss due to conversion. In this case, if you put some material in the soles to gather mechanical energy it's just going to make your feet a little more tired.

      I see something of a relation between this and sales tax... sales taxes are applied to when you're already spending money and it just shaves a little off that doesn't look like it mattered too much. Same thing here, just making your commute a little more tiring with the idea that you won't really notice. Shoe power doesn't create energy any more than sales taxes create money.

      This is not necessarily the case. Conventional brakes convert inertia into heat. Regenerative brakes convert it into electricity (and less heat). Most shoes have gel or some other type of material in them to absorb and lessen shock. If these can function in the same way but convert that motion into electricity then no additional energy is needed. So no there is no "free" energy, but there is plenty of energy that is wasted as heat. Besides, some shoe manufacturers are marketing shoes that cause the wearer t

    • Why do people keep looking for ways to power stuff by (inefficiently) robbing it from other places?

      Because according to those pesky thermodynamic laws, it's not possible to get energy any other way. You're always "robbing" it from somewhere.

      Taking energy that would have been dissipated as (body) heat seems a good solution to me.

    • Ever heard of regenerative breaking? "Free" energy. You need to brake so you might as well store the energy instead of trying desperately to vent it as heat.

      Shoes are much the same. Most shoes have a suspension mechanism. When your foot lands it is compressed, movement is turned into heat. If you turn the movement into something else, the energy would be still be dissipated but this time into something more useful.

      It isn't free energy strictly speaking, it is just using energy that you would otherwise waste

    • by MarkvW (1037596)

      My shoes are shock absorbing and so are my inserts. That absorbency makes my walk "a little more tiring," but the energy loss is necessary and I accept it gladly.

      If shoes and/or inserts can generate electricity and provide comparable absorbency at the same weight, then for all practical purposes there is a free lunch.

      Your reasoning is solid when applied to people who walk barefoot. However, people who wear shoes would not necessarily be getting a little more tired when they wear an absorbent charging devi

    • Most people don't voluntarily pay more sales tax, but plenty of us run, jog, hike and join gyms for the explicit purpose of expending more energy that we otherwise would.
    • One approach to energy harvesting is to increase the efficiency of human walking and capture the energy the human would have expended walking. This has actually been demonstrated with an energy harvesting backpack. The amount of power the human should consume carrying the backpack and doing work on the generator was found to be more than the amount of power the human actually consumes.

      So in other words, you still have to pay for your lunch, but you get more for your money.

      see "Harvesting Energy by Improving

  • by Tarlus (1000874)

    Remember those children's sneakers from the 90's that would flash LED's as the wearer walked?

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Yes, the batteries would run out after a few months and couldn't be replaced without cutting the shoe open.

  • There's a reason we walk on rubber soles instead of wooden. A rubber sole deforms, and stores energy in the rubber. A bit later it releases that energy again, and pushes your foot back up.

    That is energy efficient, and also the reason why the Achilles tendons are so important for running. They too deform end store/release energy.

    So what happens when you tap into this energy? Well, then the rubber would no longer make your foot bounce back. So you'd have to put more effort in your leg muscles to move your
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Yes, we will need to expand some more energy in our walking. Big deal.
      Also, the could put it in the toes, and not on the heel and exploit the stretching of the sole.

    • So what happens when you tap into this energy? Well, then the rubber would no longer make your foot bounce back. So you'd have to put more effort in your leg muscles to move your foot back up and forward. I imagine it would feel like walking on sand: easy to step into, but more effort to step out of.

      Considering the linkage between geeks-that-would-use-these and obesity, I fail to see a problem here.

      • Geeks? Most geeks are never far from an outlet. I can see joggers using this to power their music players, though.

    • by immakiku (777365)
      You make a good point, but there's two things I don't think you considered deeply enough: 1. It might not be a noticeable difference. Phones don't need much power. It could be millimeter depressions that generate this energy. 2. People, especially in this country, voluntarily get on treadmills to make their leg muscles use more effort. This can certainly be a win-win situation.
      • 10W out.
        Average walking speed is - say 1.5m/s.

        10 joules/second /1.5m/s = 6.6N, equivalent to a half-a-degree slope (for me) or a rise of around 1.5cm/second in the path.

        Various sources say around 40W is they typical power used to walk, so an increase by 25%.

    • by wsanders (114993)

      You know, we're engineers some of us? Let's "run the numbers" ....

      Assume walking is about the same metabolic equivalent as riding a stationary bike lazily (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolic_equivalent), you expend about 50W more or less. So a 10W shoe is going to make it about 20% more "difficult".

      Hard to say how that will "feel". "Walking on sand" seems to about sum it up.

  • poor some money into this.

  • I wear actual shoes.
  • I'll pass on this technology for shoes. I'd either have to strap my phone to my shoes, or run cables in my clothes. Either method doesn't impress me.
  • Making it a shoe binds you to just one pair. With insoles, you can use them all the time.

  • ...stillsuits really should be open hardware.
  • by rossdee (243626)

    How much will these cost?

    Can they cope with getting wet? Of course ahoes get damp and sweaty anyway, but in the case of a rainstorm and deeper than you think puddles they can get soaked.
    For me, walking is not just a means of exercise , it is a means of transport - I don't own a car you insensitive clod.

  • in a country where obesity stands at more than 30% of the population and overweight citizens comprise 70% of the population,
    you'd be crazy to think this "energy source" was capable of generating 3 watts of electricity, let alone 10.

    Sell it to india, most americans cant eat lunch without breaking a sweat.
  • Electro-wetting... is that like code for peeing in your pants? I swear some day I'll read the article :p

  • Crystals already give mW of power when deformed. It's used to weigh your fat ass on a digital scale.

  • by pkinetics (549289) on Friday August 26, 2011 @01:12PM (#37221332)
    Will promptly have you back scattered, strip searched, anal probed and put on the Terrorist Watch List if they catch you with these.
  • "Theoretical Shoe Inserts Could Power Your Gadgets"

    I suspect that a theoretical doughnut could only satisfy theoretical hunger.

    Wonder what wonders are available if they were Hypothetical rather than Theoretical?

  • theoretical ponies that can crap lightning and power a city.

That does not compute.

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