Viridian Note 00162: Piezoelectric Shoes

Bruce Sterling <>
Sat, 27 May 2000 11:25:09 -0500

Key concepts
Trevor Baylis, Neil Gershenfeld, MIT Media Lab, Texon, Electric Shoe Company, shoes that generate electricity

Attention Conservation Notice: The "Gershenfeld jogging shoe," a longtime "Viridian Imaginary Product," takes a big running leap toward real-life existence.

Entries in the Greenhouse Disaster Symbol contest: This contest expires soon: May 31, 2000.

Sources: New startup. Be the first on your block: Large, well-financed Texon footwear company: British Military-Industrial Complex At Work: "Defense Agency Walking Power is World First To Energise Inventor's Mobile Phone" Trevor Baylis OBE, inventor and author: Neal Gershenfeld, MIT Media Lab "Have My Shoe Talk To Your Refrigerator"

(((The Academic Analysis and Proposal:)))

"Parasitic Power Harvesting"

by Dr. Joseph Paradiso, Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Nate Shenck, and John Kymissis

"As the power requirements for microelectronics continue decreasing, environmental energy sources can begin to replace batteries in certain wearable subsystems. In this spirit, this effort has examined devices that can be built into a shoe, (where excess energy is readily harvested) and used for generating electrical power 'parasitically' while walking. Two of these are piezoelectric in nature: a unimorph strip made from piezoceramic composite material and a stave made from a multilayer laminate of PVDF foil. The third is a shoe-mounted rotary magnetic generator. As a self-powered application example, a system had been built around the piezoelectric shoes that periodically broadcasts a 12-bit digital RFID as the wearer walks."

(((The Startup and the Product Pitch:)))

"Texon International Explores the Future of Footwear

"Texon International plc, the leading manufacturer and supplier of footwear materials and components, has announced a joint venture with Trevor Baylis, the inventor of the clockwork radio. Mr Baylis' latest idea is to power equipment, such as a mobile phone or palm top computer, from the energy created by walking. The energy will be generated and transmitted to the phone through a device contained within special footwear soles. A new company == The Electric Shoe Company == has been founded jointly by Texon (the major shareholder) and Trevor Baylis to develop this new technology and its potential applications.

"Piers Hubbard-Miles, Managing Director of The

Electric Shoe Company stated... 'At the moment we are in Phase I of this project where our primary objective is to carry out a feasibility study of the different technologies that might be used to convert energy created from walking into electrical power. We need to establish what level of electrical power we can consistently and reliably generate and how we can store that power. We will then be exploring a variety of applications from mobile phones to Global Positioning Systems or even 'intelligent clothing.' Phase II will be a full-scale development programme with new partners from related industries.'

"A working prototype of the power generating footwear is scheduled to be tested later this year when Trevor Baylis undertakes a 100 mile trek across the Namibian desert. He plans to make the first telephone call to Tony Blair on a mobile phone powered by the energy created from walking.

"The Electric Shoe Company is the first in series of

ventures planned by Texon International which will take the company into new areas of advanced R&D and state-of- the-art technology."

"For further information contact Piers Hubbard-Miles,


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