Rice University students develop a shoe that charges your iPhone as you walk

It is hoped that this technology can be used to power life saving medical equipment

Published On: May 27 2013 10:39:40 AM EDT

Rice University engineering students have developed a shoe that can charge a mobile phone.

The four students were able to harness and store energy produced with steps a person takes, and then uses it to charger a mobile phone.

The shoe, called PediPower, turns walking motion into phone charge. Some hope this technology will eventually be used to power life saving medical equipment.

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The self-titled Agitation Squad - Carlos Armada, Julian Castro, David Morilla and Tyler Wiest - were approached to develop a new green energy technology. They decided to pursue a shoe-mounted generator.

Working in collaboration with Motion Analysis Laboratory at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, the student team discovered the force at the heel produced more potential power than any other part of the foot.

"We went to the lab and saw the force distribution across the bottom of your foot, to see where the most force is felt," Morilla said. "We found it would be at the heel and at the balls of your toes, as you push off. We went with the heel because, unless you’re sprinting, you’re letting gravity do the work."

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The currently designed devices are much too big for day-to-day wear. The prototypes deliver an average of 400 milliwatts, which is enough to charge a battery. However the device produced a little less in the walking tests, where the parts don't move as far. The shoes send energy to a belt battery back.

The student team expects the project to be passed off to another Rice team in the fall, with hopes they can refine the materials, and make the device's size more feasible.

"If we could prove that we could produce some usable power, store it in a battery and discharge that battery on a mobile device or an MP3 player, then we could prove this device works," Armada said. "Now the next team can come in and make it smaller and lighter without sacrificing power."