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Taking Steps to Power Wearable Tech

The addition of one of two new devices to one's shoes could create a source of power for wearable devices.

Two shoe-worn devices have shown promise in harnessing power from a persons walking gait to provide power to wearable electronics.

Credit: Puma

Next-generation wearable electronics could be powered by a device worn in footwear, according to researchers at the Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft Institute for Micromachining and Information Technology.

The team has developed devices that would harness the power from a person's walking gait. The shock harvester generates power when the heel of a shoe strikes the ground, while the swing harvester generates power when the foot is swinging. Utilizing the motion between magnets and coils, the shock harvester has been able to generate a maximum of 4.13 mW of power when a test subject was traveling at 5 km/h on solid ground, and the swing harvester generates an average power output of 0.84 mW. Both energy-harvesting devices were used to power a temperature sensor in a shoe, generating enough power for the temperature readings to be wirelessly transmitted over 10 meters to a handheld device.

The team still must investigate the durability of both devices. "As a demonstrator we have added simple power-management electronics to the harvesters, which only rectify the voltage and immediately use all available energy from the harvester to measure the temperature and transmit the data wirelessly to a mobile device," notes Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft Institute researcher Klevis Ylli. "This was to prove that the immediate power output of the devices suffices for wireless transmissions."

From The Engineer (United Kingdom)
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