About this project
New Category: “HAPPY FEET” – Funding goes towards documenting the reactions off all the people in developing nations that will receive the insoles people have bought for them. Any extra money will be used to produce more insoles to be given away. Backers will get a bumper sticker.
- $65,000: We will give 20 insoles to individuals in developing nations. Also, allow for a choice of color for ankle bracelet.
- $75,000: We will give 50 insoles to individuals in developing nations. We'll open another bracket for $20, which will give backers the option of printing a monochrome image or name on the battery pack.
- $90,000: We'll donate 100 insoles to individuals in developing nations.
Read full details here.
SolePower is a power-generating shoe insole for charging portable electronics like cell phones, music players, or GPS devices.
Foot-powered, energy harvesting devices aren't anything new. What we're doing differently is building the device into a removable insole so it doesn't need to be embedded in a shoe. This means you can swap it between your favorite pair of sneakers and your hiking boots.
How it works
1. Slip SolePower into your shoe and snake the charging wire through your laces.
2. Plug the charging wire into the battery. The battery can either be fastened around your ankle or clipped to the top of your shoe.
4. Unplug the battery from the insole and plug it into your device.
5. Stop to ponder how lucky you are to have a mobile, back up power source that can be used anywhere, anytime!
- Waterproof and weather resistant.
- Simulated to 100 million steps (i.e. you'll wear out your shoes first).
- Between 2.5 and 5 miles of walking for a full (iPhone) charge.
- Passes clinical recommendations for insole size.
SolePower is ideal for anyone who doesn't have access to mobile power. The New York Times said it best: “Life is becoming increasingly mobile … if only the batteries lasted long enough.”
A business person might use SolePower walking a trade show floor, a hiker would find SolePower very useful for charging cameras or GPS on long hikes, anyone in a natural disaster (i.e. hurricane Sandy) could use SolePower for emergencies.
But where SolePower really has the opportunity to help people is in developing nations. There are over 6 billion cell phones in the world, 1.5 billion of which are in developing regions. Portable electronics like cell phones act as lifelines, giving people access to everything from medical information to an education.
Status and Funding
What you see in the video is our alpha prototype. The power generation design (the mechanism that fits in the insole) is working, but our electronics are still breadboarded. The ankle bracelet is a mock up, but is an accurate representation of how the final product will look and feel.
The money we raise will go towards building the ankle bracelet and finalizing a mass producible product.
The more money we raise, the faster we can get to market. We've got a really dedicated team from Carnegie Mellon University and UC Berkeley, so we're very confident we can deliver an awesome product on time!
We’re engineers so we’re conservative when it comes to technology-related timelines. But we’re also entrepreneurs, so don’t be surprised if we get our product out earlier than expected. Here’s our timeline:
TRYING ON SHOES – We’ll take the next couple months to test our product. We've told our beta testers to take a hike. They’ll evaluate our product over the summer; we’ll identify any problems with the device and incorporate fixes into the design. (Summer, 2013)
LEARNING TO WALK – Upon completion of the beta, we’ll start to walk with the design. We’ll integrate updates and improvements from the beta testers and validate our supply chains and manufacturing methods. (Sep-Dec, 2013)
WALKING –We’ll work with our knowledgeable AlphaLab mentors (check out our bio) to finalize our supply chains and complete tooling requirements. Manufacturing tools are manufacturing aids like fixtures, dies, and cutters that enable manufacturers to make parts in high volumes; usually it takes a couple months to develop tools. (Jan-May, 2014)
RUNNING: Production and distribution (Jun-Dec, 2014).
A bit about our story.
This idea started as a capstone mechanical engineering design project at Carnegie Mellon University. We developed a proof-of-concept prototype for lighting up shoes so students could easily see where they were walking at night, and cars could easily see the students. We quickly realized that the power generation concept was more universal than small lights. By storing the charge in an external system, we could generate enough power to charge small, mobile electronics like cell phones. Thus, SolePower was born.
We're inventors at heart, and our goal is to solve problems using cool technology. Plus, we'd reeeaaallly like our phones to stop dying!
Risks and challenges
The biggest technical challenge is the size of the insole. We've talked A LOT with local podiatrists to make sure SolePower doesn't affect the way people walk. The insoles you see in the video are professional, custom orthotics and pass clinical recommendations.
The second challenge is large scale manufacturing. We've got some fantastic mentors who have scaled up electronics companies from local businesses to global players. We're working closely with them to make sure we meet our delivery goals. Check our bios for more specifics.
A quick note about funding - $50,000 won’t get us through the entire manufacturing and distribution process. We are among the finalists in several national competitions and engaged with investors who are interested in helping us reach our goals. Although things are going well, this Kickstarter campaign will be a crucial part in assisting and even accelerating the process of getting our product market-ready. In addition, we know that there are people who are as excited as we are for our product. So it’s not simply about crowdfunding - we see this Kickstarter campaign as the first step to building a community for outdoor enthusiasts, tech geeks, humanitarians, and everyone who believes in innovative ways that people, technology, and nature interact can with each other.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We have developed an shoelace clip concept for people who are concerned about the look and feel of the ankle bracelet. In the final order survey you'll be given the option to select the shoe size and battery pack options. Pictures are available in our first update.
We can accommodate sizes US women's 8 and up. The insole will be provided as a cut-to-fit insert.
The insole can be used by anyone under 350 lbs.
Will you provide a matching insole so the user doesn't have one thick insole and nothing on the other foot?
Yes, we will provide a matching insole with the same feel/weight/size as the power-producing insole so the user doesn't walk with uneven steps.
We aren’t using piezoelectric technology. Piezoelectric material produces a voltage when deformed, but it’s expensive and doesn't have high power output capabilities.
Our technology uses mechanical linkages and generators to capture power. Think hand crank flashlights…but really slimmed down.
Yes, you can run with it. However, the power generation efficiency depends on your form. Our device is designed to capture the force created by your heel. A heel strike running form is considered to be incorrect and even unhealthy. The two recommended forms are a midfoot and forefoot strike. Your heel does absorb some impact in a midfoot strike and thus you will generate power. In a forefoot strike, where your heel never touches the ground, you will not generate power.
Your feet will get wet and our device will keep working! The whole device will be waterproofed. This includes the battery pack and all cable connections.
Well, we gave it a shot... it wasn't very efficient.
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