With SolePower, a charged phone is only steps away. SolePower developed a power-generating insole, the “EnSole”, that charges phones while you walk. The core technology is a power-generating mechanism embedded within a waterproof, cut-to-fit insole. The solution is entirely mechanical. It uses mechanisms like links and gears to capture the linear motion in every step and spin a permanent magnet generator. The power is stored in a battery pack attached to the user’s shoe, which is accessed via a standard USB port. For every hour of walking, the user receives thirty minutes of talk time.
SolePower has the best power to weight ratio, and produces 10 times the power of other energy harvesting technology. The mechanical system is built into an insole, not a shoe. Therefore, the product is transferable between different types of shoes. The EnSole produces enough power to charge portable devices like cell phones and GPS devices, and seamlessly integrates into normal footwear without fatiguing the user. SolePower has a fully issued patent supporting the mechanisms required for mechanical efficiency in a profile suitable for footwear.
Over the last two years, the SolePower team has redesigned the core mechanism to increase durability and power output. Although we are still finalizing the supply chain, the team vetted each part in the system with experienced manufacturers. We know how the costs and manufacturing processes scale at volumes from 100 to 100,000 units. Part of the innovation of a mechanical power generating system is that, unlike materials-based energy harvesting technology, all components in the system are manufacturable with traditional processes.
Broadly, portable devices are becoming more efficient and more usable. Personal power generation is increasing in importance as devices become more mobile and consume more power. This is seen across sectors, from entertainment devices to life-saving medical technology. However, innovations in battery technology lag behind, creating a deficit in portable power across sectors. Wearable energy harvesting devices offer part of the power solution - human motion provides enough energy over a day such that “wasted” energy can be captured and converted to enough usable electrical energy to power a variety of portable electronics. Therefore, wearable energy harvesting technology is applicable to a wide variety of applications including developing regions, military/aid organizations, consumer electronics and outdoor gear.
To date, SolePower has a waitlist of over 7000 online signups to receive the product with $0 spent on marketing, and delivered 10 test units to the US Army. SolePower also received inbound interest from over 130 retailers in the initial target market of outdoor enthusiasts (hikers/backpackers). Interest varied from stores like Amazon and REI to other international companies looking to embed the core technology in their footwear. In 2014, SolePower was named a Popular Science Invention of the Year.
In the future, SolePower will leverage the core generator technology to create a network of mobile, wearable energy harvesting devices that remove major portable electronics completely from the grid. The EnSole is the first step in making this vision a reality.