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Future Cell Phones - Charge Your Mobile Phone While you Walk or Run

Updated on April 23, 2013

Shoe cell phone chargers would benefit villagers who walk long distances

Two Masai teens who walk long distances.
Two Masai teens who walk long distances. | Source

Charge that mobile phone just by walking

A new invention will allow you to charge your phone while you’re on the go. This charger will be done via a very thin crystal embedded in the sole of your shoe, which will create electricity from the pressure of your shifting weight while you walk or run.

This could have been invented by some future Bill Gates character at MIT for the convenience of gym goers, so they could charge their phones while they were on the treadmill or stair climber. But it wasn’t. It was invented by Anthony Mutua, a Kenyan and a 24 year old graduate of Mombasa Polytechnic University College, using a grant from the National Science and Technology Institute of Kenya.

He invented the shoe charger for mobile phones so people such as herdsmen and the residents of small villages and isolated farms who have no access to electricity can stay in touch without having to use diesel generators to keep their phones charged.

However, you can bet that when this catches on it will be used around the world, including the U.S. and other developed countries. It will be just too good to pass up – and it will give people an alternate reason to walk besides taking the dog out for a relief trip.

When I first read about this great innovation, I thought that phones would be charged by each person and maybe for a friend or two with the small cord from the shoe into the pocket while walking or running, but that’s not its only possibility.

The charge lasts in the shoe for a short time, so any enterprising small business people in Africa, Asia or wherever could take a long walk, build up the charge, then charge other people’s phones for a fee. Anthony Mutua has developed his charger with this in mind, and has designed it to be able to charge more than one phone as one time for small commercial enterprises. So it will not only keep people in touch, but provide a new opportunity for employment in the same isolated areas.

I can even see a small business owner in a larger urban area, such as city in India, buying a few more chargers as time goes by and hiring children or other adults to walk or run and build charges up. Then a charge station could be open all day for business, with workers bringing in charged up batteries and taking out drained ones for recharging.

Anthony Mutua will open his first business in Nairobi, fitting shoes with his special invention. He can fit the device to just about any shoe. The current cost is about $46.00. The chip is guaranteed to work for two and a half years, but not if stolen or, of course, lost.

While $46.00 is quite a bit of money in Kenya, the National Science and Technology Institute of Kenya helped to fund the development of his prototype, which he has patented, with the idea in mind that this would be a very good alternative to the diesel generators and the fuel that must be hauled just to charge things.

Mass production will reduce the price of the charger to a more affordable item for people to buy. When you consider that a whole village could get together to buy one or two of the chargers and send someone into town to have shoes fitted with a chip for that purpose, the per person cost would be greatly reduced.

I am sure that, with this invention, Anthony Mutua or some other young African techie will be expanding the charger idea to include laptops, lights and other electronics. While they are currently being used to a limited degree, this could easily change the face and culture of isolated regions not only in Africa, but all over the world. Whether or not that is a good thing overall remains to be seen, but it will provide better medical access and more educational and employment opportunities to people who are normally too isolated to benefit from them.

Two guys from the University of Minnesota, Ashley Taylor and Tom Krupenkin, have developed a similar technology in America. Their invention captures thermodynamic power from footsteps, but it is different from Anthony Mukua’s charger. Theirs is scheduled to go into mass production under the brand name InStep Nanopower.

While Anthony’s charger is thought to be powered by a piezoelectric device, it’s not important to the users. That's good, because most of us (including me) don't have even an inkling of what that is. We won’t need to know how either charge works to use them.


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