Generating Power from Footsteps

Piezoelectric power technology--using pressure generated by people walking to produce electricity--has been used in small applications before. Rotterdam has a human-powered dance club, English supermarket Sainsbury's features people-powered checkout lines, and a Tokyo subway station runs turnstiles and displays with piezoelectric power. But Toulouse, France, recently became the first city to stick the pressure-sensitive modules on the sidewalk so that residents can generate power just by walking down the street.

The city is using the same modules found at Rotterdam's people-powered Club Watt. The technology, developed by Dutch company Sustainable Dance Club, features embedded microsensors that generate electricity when pressure is exerted by passersby. According to the UK Guardian, Toulouse's experiment marks the first time that the SDC modules have been used on the street.

So far, Toulouse has installed a trial section of eight modules that produce 50 to 60 watts, or enough to power a street lamp. The city hasn't decided whether to expand the sidewalk program, but Rotterdam is plowing ahead with a pilot scheme to stick SDC modules in a soccer stadium. Soon enough, we might all produce energy just by power-walking to work.

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