Two Carnegie Mellon graduates, Matt Stanton and Hahna Alexander, are the founders of SolePower, a company making a shoe insert that stores the power generated by walking and running into a battery that can be instantly accessed via a USB port. Beta testing on the prototype has begun, with release expected next summer.
The insert can be paired with any shoe type and feels like a regular, cushy insole, according to Stanton. The battery attaches to the ankle or the top of the shoe, and is charged after 2.5 miles of footsteps with enough power to run an iPhone. Runners needing to power heat-producing mittens in the winter could also benefit.
Another application is emergency charging of cell phones and radios during power outages. People in developing nations likewise will have a reliable power source for mobile phones and other essential small electronics.