Viridian Note 00276: Khaki Green Power BootsBruce Sterling <email@example.com>
16 Oct 2001 19:51:03 -0000
Key concepts: powered footwear, piezoelectrics, military repurposing, khaki green
Attention Conservation Notice: It's about a favorite Viridian gizmo now re-appearing in military guise.
Kenneth Huff was at the Atlanta Artscape outdoor
show. He's got a very "transorganic" computer art thing
Sally J. Bright weaves rattan into non-CAD para-baskets
that might be best described as "folk blobjects."
This is so "us." A solar-powered latte frother.
Holy mackerel, look at those tensegrity tables. How
do you clean them? What if the cat gets stuck?
Brooks Brothers has a nifty line of upscale weatherproof
mens' wear called "BrooksStorm(R)". They don't look
like products for savage climate change, yet they
happen to be waterproof and windproof.
(((The piezoelectric boot has been a Viridian darling for years now. Unsurprisingly, these "imaginary products" suddenly have a military app and a paramilitary think tank involved. Production marches forth!)))
"These Boots Are Made for Power Energetic Walking Could One Day Juice Your Gadgets
By Paul Eng
"Oct. 12 == There are boots for wading, walking, hiking
"SRI International, a research firm in Menlo Park,
Calif., is working with the Defense Department to create a
shoe that will convert the mechanical energy of walking
into electric power to charge up gadgets, batteries and
other devices. (((Go to www.viridiandesign.org and look up
"Bayliss," "Texon" and "Gershenfeld".)))
"At the heart, or rather sole, of the experimental foot-ware (((nice coinage there, "footware"))) is a heel made of a special elastic polymer. A tiny battery positively charges one side of the flexible material and the other negatively. As the material is compressed and released == such as by the foot pressure generated during walking == the distance between the positive and negative sides change, which in turn creates electricity.
"According to Ron Pelgrine, the director for SRIInternational's Advanced Transducers Program, the
prototype boot generates about half a watt of power ==
more than enough energy to recharge the boot's built-in
battery and a cell phone. But Pelgrine hopes that by the
end of January the boot's output could be raised to nearly
two watts which is enough juice to power several small
electronic devices == a cell phone, a handheld computer,
and a radio == simultaneously.
Link: Nice associated article and a pic of Ron here. He looks pretty much like you'd expect.
"And that kind of potential could be reached since the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has funded about $2.6 million to SRI International's research under a project called Energy Harvesting.
Link: Renewable energy derived from "soldier heel strike." People who aren't in the military-entertainment complex call that "walking." DARPA Energy Harvesting is also into renewable military-app energy from deep ocean currents, thermoelectric materials, chemical gradients in ocean sediments, hydrogen production via enzymes, and solar. Until today I'd never heard of 'em, but those have all been Viridian topics and subjects of our Notes.
"The goal of DARPA's project is to develop
unconventional energy sources to power a future soldier's
equipment such as radios and electronic gun sights. By
harvesting power generated by walking, soldiers of the
future won't have carry as many batteries and will have
more room for other supplies such as ammunition and food.
"Smarter Combat Boots, Quieter Generators
"Pelgrine says that SRI's boots would also provide
for even 'smarter' foot-ware for the common ground-
pounder. 'The power can be used for devices on the boot
such as navigation aides, electronic functions that will
tell you how far you've walked and monitor your health,'
"What's more, Pelgrine says the power-generating
polymers could be used in other places outside of the
"For example, a portable gas-powered motor could flex
a lightweight polymer instead of cranking a conventional
magnet- and metal-based generator. That would make a
portable electric generator not only lighter, but quite
possibly quieter since there are fewer moving parts.
"'These polymers can be used anywhere you need to
generate power,' says Pelgrine.
"Pelgrine is quick to warn that it will still take
quite some time before we see people plugging into their
shoes for juice, however. Specific design issues, such as
how to pack the polymers and electronics into an easy to
manufacture material, still need to be worked out.
((("War is the health of the state," Ron; keep
"Pelgrine estimates that the earliest we may see power-generating foot-ware hit the streets would be in two years." (((Well, Trevor Bayliss has been at the same job for quite some time already, without the American taxpayer behind him; the first time we Viridians get our feet into "footware," it may be military-surplus.)))
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