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This company created floor tiles that convert footsteps into energy

Updated Jul 14th, 2022 10:13AM EDT
energy creating floor tiles
Image: kwanbenz / Adobe

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A company called Pavegen has created floor tiles that create electricity using kinetic energy. The tiles have been installed in almost 40 countries and can generate up to five joules of energy per footstep.

These floor tiles use kinetic energy to generate electricity

Laurence Kemball-Cook, the founder and CEO of the company, told The Guardian he first had the idea when trying to come up with new ways to power streetlights in his city. The city was shaded, so solar energy wasn’t extremely viable. But Kemball-Cook tried to think of new ways to take advantage of the streets themselves. So, he came up with the idea of floor tiles that can harvest kinetic energy.

Being able to generate power using foot traffic is intriguing, and it takes away a lot of the concerns for renewable energy that come with solar and wind power. With kinetic-generated electricity, you no longer have to worry about rain or cloudy days stifling the power generated. You also don’t have to worry and windless days keeping generators from building up reserves.

Instead, people become the generator. And, because each footstep can generate up to five joules of power, it can help power low-energy applications such as LED lighting and display screens. The company is also exploring other ways to generate electricity. But, kinetic floor technology will never replace other clean power generation, the company says.

As a result, Pavegen has evolved over the past several years, and the company says it will continue to focus on creating experiences that inspire, educate, and inform people on how to live more sustainable lives.

More than just clean power generation

Image source: lovelyday12 / Adobe

But these floor tiles capable of harvesting kinetic energy don’t stop at creating energy. They also act as a data collection system. The tile sends out wireless data each time a person steps on it. This allows for crowd flow modeling, which can let experts see how people move through cities.

Cities can use this information to make better walkways and improve areas that get a lot of foot traffic. Additionally, you can use these types of tiles to control lighting better. Allowing for less energy waste in the long run. And, Pavegen says it can even help retailers determine how many people are visiting their shops.

Floor tiles that can generate kinetic energy have been appearing all over the world for years. And, as more cities add them, we’ll be able to see how inventive and inspiring the application gets. Systems like Pavegen’s kinetic energy generating floor tiles can help support the drive towards net zero and the UN’s global goals for sustainable development.

Kinetic floor technology, while innovative, will most likely never be able to “power the world”, the company says. So we’ll need to wait on things like fusion reactors for unlimited, clean energy.

Edit: The article has been updated to provide correct information about energy generation capabilities and to address the company’s evolving goals.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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