Sunday, June 9, 2013
Rice University Invents Shoes that May Power Medical Devices
As medical devices are becoming more energy hungry thanks to new capabilities, batteries that are used to power them are not keeping up. Lithium ions have essentially plateaued the development of new batteries for now, but a way to overcome this challenge is to generate power continuously and feed it to hungry devices as needed.
A team of engineering students at Rice University have been tasked with developing a new device that can harvest the body’s motion to produce useful electric power. In the process of researching where it’s best to gather the energy they settled on the heel of the shoe, which is normally designed to absorb the shock and finally transfer the energy into heat that is lost forever. They instead developed a mechanical heel that spins a small motor, that in turn generates electric power. The device, called PediPower, produces about 400 milliwatts in laboratory tests, enough to charge a battery for some limited applications.