Energy-generating shoe insole concept wins international competition

Feb 16, 2015
Taylor Ward

Beedie School of Business undergraduate student Taylor Ward won the 2015 IxDA Student Design Challenge with his shoe insole that can transform and store kinetic energy.

Taylor Ward’s innovative energy concept has set a winning pace.

The Simon Fraser University undergraduate design and business student’s “Step” insole took first place at this week’s 2015 IxDA Student Design Challenge, held at the Interaction15 Conference in San Francisco.

In keeping with the competition theme, “envisioning the wearable city,” Ward’s concept is a shoe insole that can transform kinetic energy from every step into potential energy and electricity that can be redistributed to power our cities.

Each insole would contain piezoelectric nanogenerators and compactors for transforming each step into energy and then storing it in the insoles.

The energy would then be transferred, using wireless inductive charging, from transfer stations into the city’s power grid.

“There are really no words to describe what it feels like to win this award,” says Ward, 22, who competed against four international teams

“It’s still pretty surreal. For me, the real award was just being able to compete and learn from the other six talented students.

“Any of us could have won, I just happened to pull ahead in the end.”

Ward will showcase his concept at the SFU Surrey campus Global Community Open House on March 4.

Along with finalists from the United States, Sweden and Italy, he worked with industry professionals at the Interaction15 Conference to sharpen and further develop the concept before pitching it to a panel of judges and more than 900 attendees.

Ward’s prize is valued at more than $3,000 in research and design tools and access to conferences around the world.

This year’s competition theme challenged students to develop concepts that connected to and improved their cities and life within them.

Ward says the inspiration for his concept came from the City of Vancouver’s goal of becoming the greenest city in the world. It challenged him to think of ways we could harness the 150 million steps we take in our lifetime.

“In Canada, our domestic consumption of electricity in 2013 was nearly 560 trillion watts of power expended in a single hour,” he says. “That is the sixth highest in the world. This is reflected by our city, as our residents have an ecological footprint three times larger than the Earth can sustain.”

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