SolePower Launches Self-Powered SmartBoots
February 6, 2017 -- Pittsburgh, PA SolePower is a Pittsburgh based startup, originally founded by Hahna Alexander and Matthew Stanton. The company is proving that portable tech can be powered solely by a person moving. Wearables that are self-powered can in turn solve compelling problems in safety and efficiency. From helping the military charge a battery while on their feet to reducing accidents by keeping track of workers on job sites, SolePower self-sustaining wearables will make people’s lives better.
The Quest for Power
Hahna and Matt found a way to generate electricity through human footsteps in a capstone Engineering class project at Carnegie Mellon University. They figured a way to harvest energy from human motion as an alternative to electricity for mobile electronic devices. The kinetic energy of the heel strike is transferred into the mechanical system, which uses it to spin a micro-generator.
Applications and Solutions
SolePower was born in 2012 with the initial goal to give a power boost to portable electronics. The first commercial application was a lightweight and powerful energy solution for soldiers. With R&D contracts from the US Army and the National Science Foundation, the energy harvesting technology has been refined. SolePower kinetic chargers are currently in test with the US Military to charge battery packs. Kinetic chargers in army boots lighten their load and provide a better power source than hefty power packs.
Placing the charger in the back of a work boot led to another realization. “We realized we could power lights and a suite of sensors such as GPS for location and accelerometers for motion and movement.” Hahna explained. “When embedded in a boot with a wireless connection, the system gathers and provides information about worker safety, productivity, and efficiency. The insights and data will be invaluable to companies who care about the safety of their workforce. “
“Advancements in technology makes it possible for real-time data from the body to be collected and analyzed. The data is valuable for industries to keep workers safe, fit and productive.” Hahna continued. "SmartBoots will be one of the first wearables in a growing trend of connected devices, in the Industrial internet of things (IIoT). “ The IIoT market is expected to grow with a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $124 Billion by 2021 (source: IndustryARC, June 2016).
Industry executives confirm the critical role safety plays with grave consequences and lost business when there are accidents. While solutions exist for fleet management across multiple industries, no such solution for “feet management” has been commercialized. The connected, self-sustaining SmartBoots have the potential to be valuable in lowering accident rates on work sites, tracking hours on location and determining efficient ways of organizing job sites. SolePower is conducting user tests and pilots in construction, energy and fire protection this year.
SmartBoots to Improve Safety and Efficiency
GPS enabled location tracking can account for employees on their feet in emergency situations. A tracker that warns workers not to enter a dangerous area or a panic button to alert a supervisor to the exact location of an accident are devices designed to save lives rather than monitor an employee’s every move. With SmartBoots, companies will be able to verify data of worker location when an accident happens will enable the compliance and reporting process to be more accurate and smooth.
In many job sites with workers on their feet it is unknown where crews are when they are on the job. Sites and projects extend for miles and keeping track of where employees are is a problem. With accurate location information from SmartBoots, companies can better understand hazards and developed better training and processes that save time, money and lives.
For Firemen in an emergency, anxiety increases and oxygen usage is reduced when they can’t see each other. Inevitably, smoke and fire causes poor visibility. Leading boot manufacturers have asked SolePower to add lights in Firemen boots to increase visibility. An energy harvesting source is needed because batteries are dangerous in high temperatures.
The kinetic chargers and connected SmartBoots are available for testing as both an energy source and an integrated feet management platform to protect and save lives.
SolePower is a startup in Pittsburgh, PA, founded in 2012 creating self-sustaining wearables that make people’s live better. SmartBoots, the first connected industrial workboot will track worker location and movement to automate and simplify workforce management. SolePower has two issued patents for kinetic energy harvesting devices that generate power from walking. They work with the US Army R & D and have won NSF SBIR grants. Investors include Carnegie Mellon University, Innovation Works, and Steve Case.
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