Powering small devices that often tend to be neglected, but which are vital in some conditions, such as embedded GPSes, or MEMS sensors, usually requires microwatt-scale energy levels, hardly achievable with today’s MEMS devices.
Dr. Ville Kaajakari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Louisiana Tech University has devised a small power generator that can be embedded in the sole of a shoe, to juice any kind of low-power device.
“This technology could benefit, for example, hikers that need emergency location devices or beacons,” said Kaajakari. “For more general use, you can use it to power portable devices without wasteful batteries.”
He used a low-cost polymer transducer that has metalized surfaces for electrical contact. It is a soft and robust transducer, closely matching the physical properties of shoe fillings, unlike conventional ceramic transducers, which are fragile and prone to easy breaking.
“Ultimately, we want to bring up the power levels up to a point where we could, in addition to sensors, charge or power other portable devices such as cell phones,” he also said.