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Vibram develops smartshoes that power smartphones

18 Mar 2016

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Shoes that can charge your smartphones while you walk may soon be available from Vibram, Italian maker of Fivefingers shoes and Megagrip soles.

The shoe's technology has been developed exclusively by Vibram, which has worked with the IIT (Italian Institute of Technology), the Centre for Micro-BioRobotics in Pontedera (PI, Italy) and with InStep NanoPower, a U.S. company that specialises in nanotechnology and renewable energy.

The shoe can store and convert the energy produced from movement, in this case walking, and use it to charge various devices, including a mobile phone. It works with an integrated system located in the midsole, which converts the energy to power an internal electronic device. Walking at a standard speed generates on average 1W of energy, with eight hours of walking enough to charge your smartphone and prevent it from dying on you while out and about. The power generated is also affected by the weight of the user, his or her walking speed and the load carried; the faster you walk, the more energy you'll generate.

vibram prototype

Figure 1: Vibram believes that the shoe's charging abilities have more far-reaching implications than simply powering up your smartphone. (Source: Vibram)

The system also self-powers an electronic chip, which uses Bluetooth to communicate with a special Android application to send users information on their walking, including number of steps, foot temperature, and geolocation, as well as their smartphone's battery level.

In addition to charging up your phone, there is a micro USB port on the shoe, which can use the system's stored energy to charge external devices.

Vibram believes that the shoe's charging abilities have more far-reaching implications than simply powering up your smartphone. This power reserve – combined with the system's continuous geolocation abilities – could help emergency teams, such as firemen and Special Forces. The system also could possibly use the stored energy to produce heat, something that could be of benefit to users in harsh, inclement weather conditions.

Vibram presented its first smart shoe back in 2015. A collaboration between Vibram and Chinese tech company Lenovo, the shoe used a GPS-powered navigation system that recorded data from users, which could then be communicated with Lenovo devices.




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