If you’re not exercising regularly, you may want to consult your doctor before using your cell phone. Sound strange? Inventor Trevor Baylis doesn’t think so. He’s the brain behind some electric shoes that allow you to power batteries while you walk.
Earlier this year Baylis, along with England’s Texon International ( www.texon.com), a footwear components manufacturer, established The Electric Shoe Co., based in Leicester, England, to develop the technology. Baylis successfully tested the shoes last June in a 100-mile trek across the Namibian Desert.
Using a generator located in the heel, the shoes convert the mechanical energy produced by walking into an electrical current. A leisurely walk, for example, can generate enough to keep a Sony Walkman powered during your stroll. To have a decent cell phone conversation, you’d have to walk at a rate of about 1.5 miles an hour.
Possible future applications for the electric shoes include powering laptops and use in developing countries where landline infrastrustrure is unavailable.
The company is still working out a few practical matters – currently, to transmit electricity from your foot to power-hungry devices, you would have to run wires from the back of your shoes, up the inside pants seam to the pocket, with a pull-release connector at the back of the shoes. Eventually, the company hopes to streamline the system by incorporating wireless technology instead.
The shoes are expected to become commercially available in early 2002. That should leave plenty of time to get in shape.