Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Technology

Las Vegas Gets "Kinetic Tiles" That Power Lights With Foot Traffic (arstechnica.com) 86

An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: A New York-based startup called EnGoPlanet has installed four streetlights in a plaza off the Las Vegas Strip that are powered exclusively by solar and kinetic energy. The installations aren't mere streetlights though -- they also power a variety of environmental monitors, support video surveillance, and, for the masses, offer USB ports for device charging.

The streetlights are topped by a solar panel crest, and have "kinetic tiles" on the ground below them. These panels reportedly can generate 4 to 8 watts from people walking on them, depending on the pressure of the step. The renewable energy is then collected by a battery for use at night. The solar-plus-kinetic energy design is useful on those rare Vegas days without too much sun -- as long as there is still plenty of foot traffic.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Las Vegas Gets "Kinetic Tiles" That Power Lights With Foot Traffic

Comments Filter:
  • thinking they have passed on
  • by beckett ( 27524 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @11:12PM (#53278555) Homepage Journal
    i love how the video advert sneaks in "Video Monitoring" as one of the many features that will be powered by humans at about 1:06. However, the use of "smart analytics" as describing a human powered Stingray/IMEI catcher has got to be a first.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My first thought about "smart analytics" in this context is gait recognition. Shouldn't be hard to build a profile on you based on the times and places you walk over one of these panels.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Protip, just keep drinking. Intoxication influences one's gait; if you get progressively more drunk as you move from place to place, they'll have a hard time building that profile.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2016 @12:58AM (#53278919)

      ..but unfortunately sarge, all the surveillance footage stopped abruptly after the gunman shouted "Nobody move"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This just in from 2006...

    Man Power: Pressure Pads Under Pavements Could Generate Electricity From Every Step We Take
    http://www.redorbit.com/news/t... [redorbit.com]

  • by mattventura ( 1408229 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @11:33PM (#53278619) Homepage
    Conservation of energy? Isn't this just making the pedestrians expend more energy to walk?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sunking2 ( 521698 )
      Good thing you aren't a physicist.
      • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @11:51PM (#53278679)

        Care to explain? Because he's right. Walkers will have to expend a bit of extra work while walking on these tiles. It might not be much of course, and hardly noticeable to most perhaps. But I'd think it'd be similar to the difference between walking on soft grass or carpet vs pavement or concrete. The latter two surfaces absorb very little of the walking energy.

        • The only reason I could see for such tiles would be if walking on them were somehow friendlier to people with leg injuries, dodgy knees etc. That would have been a better reason than something that can be fixed with a simple length of wire attached to the grid, with a solar panel elsewhere.
          • From TFA:

            These panels reportedly can generate 4 to 8 watts from people walking on them, depending on the pressure of the step

            Harnessing the power of American Obesity. Take THAT you scrawny furriners!

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          In other words if the place had soft carpet and replaced it with these tiles, the energy expended would be the same. Probably nosier though.

          Maybe they could sell them as fitness devices too, like those shoes that put you off balance deliberately.

      • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Monday November 14, 2016 @12:16AM (#53278765) Journal

        I am a physicist, and the OP has a valid point.

        Walking on a sidewalk fitted with these kinetic tiles would feel somewhat similar to walking up a slight incline. The extra expended energy would be modest, but real.

        • ...if human beings are an efficient source of energy for electronics.
          • That's kind of the point. We most certainly are not an efficient source of energy.

        • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday November 14, 2016 @12:43AM (#53278843) Journal

          Walking on a sidewalk fitted with these kinetic tiles would feel somewhat similar to walking up a slight incline.

          I've seen the people walking around Las Vegas. They could stand a little extra exercise.

        • by v1 ( 525388 )

          Indeed, same thing happens with these roadways they're trying to use to power stuff like ice indicators and traffic displays. That energy's gotta come from somewhere. Either it's hitting up your MPG or is making your walk more tiring.

          I bet it's quite noticeable on a bicycle too. And pushing that baby stroller just got more fun. But on the upside, it'll probably reduce the number of posers flying by on their longboards and rollerblades.

        • That is in no way a bad thing. I think most people in the US could do with a little bit more energy expended.

          • The problem is that they'll eat more to compensate. And food energy is terribly inefficient.
            • Honestly, I doubt it. Not in the US. Not really anyway to know without a controlled experiment, but my gut feeling would be that most people would eat the same. Especially in a place like Vegas where tourists will eat to gorge themselves, not eat to meet a daily-burn energy requirement.

              People in the West don't eat to meet energy requirements, they eat because they enjoy eating and they get hungry. Most of us overeat to some degree, or at least eat more than we really need to. I doubt an ever so slight

        • No, its not a valid point. You assume the energy comes from having to work harder. If it were to require more energy going in then that would be a characteristic of the material used and has nothing to do with conservation of energy. The Earth in the end is the energy 'ground'. This simply takes some of that energy and directs it into a device that converts it to electricity before it eventually makes it way to ground. That's called....Conservation of Energy....
        • by Wargames ( 91725 )

          What if the sidewalks have a slight downward slope?

          • by ferret4 ( 459105 )
            someone upvote this for hilarity :-) (and for the pendants - it's not wrong, but unless you're in an escher drawing you've got to go back uphill some day)
      • I can tolerate someone being a dick. I don't mind when people are clueless. But when you're clueless, don't be a dick. Here's the physics explanation for you, since you clearly never passed Physics 101:

        https://hardware.slashdot.org/... [slashdot.org]

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Not really. It's just stealing from the normal force which the Earth would exert against your feet anyway. So the Earth pushes back less against you (because it's the tiles doing the pushing) and the energy difference is harnessed by the tiles and converted to electrochemical energy. The force you exert on the ground is mg (mass times gravity). That doesn't change if you're standing on a concrete tile or if you're standing on a spring. The work to compress the spring is being done by gravity not you. You're
      • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday November 14, 2016 @12:24AM (#53278789)

        No I don't think so. Work is not done unless there is movement involved. Just standing on the surface represents potential energy but not kinetic. There's no "stealing from the normal force which the Earth would exert." If that was true our energy problems would be over! Clean energy from nothing. The dream of crack pots everywhere.

        It's also not true that gravity provides the energy for a mass compressed by gravity on a spring. Gravity can only work with the potential energy that was imparted by work to the mass. In other words it still takes energy to lift the mass up and place it on the spring, which is then compressed by gravity. There's no free lunch here.

        Have you ever walked or run on a concrete sidewalk vs soft grass? There's even a difference between, albeit slight, between walking on pavement and concrete. There's a small but distinguishable difference in the amount of energy it takes to walk or even ride on the different surfaces. The kinetic tiles would be similar. The energy they generate comes from our stride, so that means our bodies have to work just a tiny bit harder.

        • While what you say is mostly true, it's more comfortable to walk on surfaces that have a small amount of give. The human walking motion is far less efficient than a wheel (obviously, or people would be able to walk as fast as they can cycle for the same amount of effort) and a big chunk of the wasted energy is in the backwards force. This is dissipated by heating the ground or your joints (and wearing away the cartilage in your knee, in particular).
      • Have you ever walked on trampoline or any other springed surface? It makes it harder to walk.

        Since you like to use the physics terms, it's all about potential energy. Prior to stepping on the pad, you have a certain amount potential energy due to your altitude. Stepping on the pad, you go DOWN. That's a loss of energy, you have to exert effort to return back up where you started. That's the energy powering the electric stuff, it takes potential energy from pedestrians, requiring them to step up slightly

        • Have you ever walked on trampoline or any other springed surface? It makes it harder to walk.

          Actually, a springy surface is easy to walk on cause the springs return the energy back to you when you lift your feet. An energy absorbing material would be more like walking on sand, which is very difficult cause as you compress the sand when you walk, the energy is converted to heat and wasted. Try running on a sandy beach, and you'll see what I mean. I imagine walking on this sort of floor will be somewhat like walking on sand: very tiring.

    • The amount of power they're taking is very small, it's not over the whole sidewalk, and anyway there's a clever way to turn it into a virtue; if you make it a bit springy and only collect some of the energy then it will feel rewarding instead of sapping.

      If you actually did the whole sidewalk you could take less power than people's shoes waste in heat due to compression and still run your LED streetlights... Like the other comments have pointed out, there's plenty of mass to work with there

      • The amount of power they're taking is very small

        In that case, you could easily run the streetlights with solar panels. Or, for that matter, a simple power cable buried under the sidewalk.

        • I agree that this is not really someplace this is needed. It's an easy place to test it, because of the quantity of foot traffic. It seems like it would be more useful in parks, rest stops and the like.

  • Progress (Score:5, Funny)

    by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @11:54PM (#53278689)
    Pretty soon now we'll reach the middle of the 19th century, and we'll have treadle powered sewing machines.
    • Yes but they'll be wireless treadle sewing machines with LEDs and USB ports.

  • You mean, if you put solar panels high and angle them TOWARDS the sun, they work better? And they don't get all smashed and dirty?

    That's so crazy it just might work!

  • Do heavier people generate more power when walking on these? Maybe those buffets we have here will serve an extra purpose now.
  • https://www.ovoenergy.com/blog... [ovoenergy.com]

    and many others, even if maybe they miss out what seems to be this scheme's USP, adding solar power to it.

  • Better have some mighty current limiters installed, if Americans are going to walk on them.

  • 8 watts from the kinetic

    http://www.instructables.com/i... [instructables.com]

    There you go garbage 1 watt panel. How much anyone want to bet that 8 nice panels and batteries are far cheaper than these ?

    And for people who have never been to Vegas walking is not how how you want to get around, unless you are real fond of heat stroke.

  • "These panels reportedly can generate 4 to 8 watts from people walking on them, depending on the pressure of the step. "

    That's for tourists, for real Americans it's more like 16-18 watts.

  • A New York-based startup called EnGoPlanet has installed four streetlights in a plaza off the Las Vegas Strip that are powered exclusively by solar and kinetic energy. The installations aren't mere streetlights though -- they also power a variety of environmental monitors, support video surveillance, and, for the masses, offer USB ports for device charging.

    While this sounds like a neat technical proof-of-concept, I cannot imagine that it would be economically viable for an application like this. The tiles would have to be be impossibly cheap for this to cost even close to the cost of grid power. I could see potential uses for the technology (emergency power comes to mind) but this particular application doesn't seem optimum. Might be a great way to prove the concept though and test it in a heavy utilization environment.

  • Las Vegas should now give a tax break for the all you can eat buffets.

    The tiles produce more energy the more pressure (bigger the lardarse stepping on it). Fat people = more electricity. All those Vegas mega-buffets are now helping power the city. Vegas should give them a tax break.

    Oh, and who said Obesity was a strain on the economy- obesity is fighting back and producing more electricity.

  • No wonder they've been fattening up Americans for so long... We really are just a power source for the Matrix.

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

Working...