Harvesting information and energy from your footsteps.
The number one priority in real estate right now is the transition to a sustainable model of energy management. On the one hand by trying to limit the energy needed to provide comfortable accommodation, on the other hand by providing the building with ways to generate renewable energy. Solar power is the most popular way to achieve this, but Pavegen offers a novel way to generate renewable energy by using the kinetic energy of its residents.
Pavegen uses kinetic floor tiles to generate electricity. Every time someone steps on a Pavegen tile it causes the underlying electromagnetic generator to produce up to 3 joules per footstep, this results in around 5 watts while a single person is walking on it.
But the Pavegen tiles produce more than energy alone, every step also generates a pulse that can be transformed into useful data. Pavegen provides a platform that aggregates this information and enables real-time movement analytics. The platform even has its own app, presenting an individual insight into their own steps, and APIs allowing partners to integrate the installation and integrate gaming mechanics by turning steps into virtual points.
imagery courtesy Pavegen
Pavegen was founded in 2009 by Laurence Kemball-Cook. The first proof-of-concept tile was cooked up while at university. He installed the first installation without authorization in a school and quickly found out that the students found it quite fun. The “gamification of energy-saving”-concept was born.
The idea struck a chord and since then Pavegen was asked to do installations all over the world supporting different use-cases.
The company has grown considerably compared to the early days raising over $8M and employing more than 30 workers.
🕵️♀️ Who else?
Uncharted Power is another company that is active in turning kinetic energy into renewable electrical power.
Energy floors offers a dance floor powered by kinetic energy, the generated electricity is used by the integrated led lighting to enable novel interactions. They also invented an alternative solution for making the pavement generate energy and raise awareness on renewable energy by combining walkable solar panels with led lighting into street tiles.
Solaroad is experimenting with pavement integrated photovoltaics.
Kinergizer is using vibrations to generate power using ao. the motion of trains or trucks.
Harvesting power from motion that is occurring anyway, seems to be one of the most environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity. There is a lack of both clean energy and exercise in most parts of the world, so there can’t really be too many solutions that tackle both of these problems all at once.
Adding a privacy-friendly data tracking layer on top of the solution might be an important added value for making power-generating pavement ubiquitous in the streets of tomorrow.
👎 Why not?
For good measure: a run-off-the-mill led light consumes circa 10 watts. When you take into account the 5 watts generated while someone is stepping on the Pavegen tiles, doing the math this means that you will need a metric shitload of footsteps to power anything more than the lighting that illuminates the pavement. This seems to also be the conclusion that the companies producing these tiles have come to, focussing more on the marketing and educational potential, than on real-world applications. Some people might even call this greenwashing… or maybe what these tiles really harvest is positive energy for working towards a greener future.
📚 Further reading?
TedX talk from Laurence Kemball-Cook
There is more kinetic power to unlock in this world.