Addressing a problem faced by smartphone users, Nagpur-based, Mandar Tulankar has come up with a solution to charge the phone by utilizing the energy put in, while walking. Ask any smartphone owner what it is that they want from their phone and most of the times the answer will be better battery life. While the phones are getting smarter, they seem to guzzle even more power. Gone are the days when you had to charge your phone once in two days; the newer ones, depending on your use, have to be charged several times a day. And if you are travelling and have forgotten to carry your charger, then you may find yourself in fix.
Nagpur-based, Mandar Tulankar, a final year engineering student from Nuva College of Engineering and a frequent traveller, often found himself in this situation, with his mobile battery running out and with him finding no place to charge it. This is what got him thinking and having read about the piezoelectric method, he decided to try to employ it to charge mobile batteries. Why shoes, you wonder? He explains, “It requires use of a part where maximum pressure of the body is available. So I decided to embed the device in the sole of the shoe.”
As outrageous as it may sound, it’s an effective concept and works quite well. “It is based on a simple principle of conversion from mechanical energy to electrical energy. The assembly of the mobile shoes charger is designed in a way that it provides a natural acupressure to the feet. We walk an average of nearly 3,000 steps a day, and it takes hardly an hour for the cell to be charged up fully. So let’s say an average person weighing 60 kgs goes for half an hour walk, then that would be sufficient enough to have his cell phone battery fully charged.” It employs the piezoelectric system using crystal plates placed within the sole of one shoe. The piezoelectric effect converts the mechanical pressure into electric current.
Power Walking's the future!
Mandar’s innovation has been well appreciated and has won him several prestigious awards. After he built the first prototype, he put it to rigorous testing from ensuring that it doesn’t cause discomfort to the wearer, to controlling the voltage, to its ability to withstand moisture and pressure. He concludes, “Since the device is placed in the inner sole, it doesn’t cause any discomfort. And it is tested to work from -10 to 55 degrees temperature.”
Mandar also had to devise means to control the volts, and furthermore, to customize it for each cell phone as each one has different power requirement. He says, “The cord that connects the shoe and the phone is long enough that it allows the person to conveniently use the phone without hindrances. Also, every phone has a different power requirement so I will have to modify the device according to the phone model. The difference is not that huge, but it still exists and can be easily achieved by simple modification.”
Mandar is in talks with manufacturers and has almost finalized a deal for mass production of shoes with the charging device embedded. He says, “We already had talks with manufacturers to produce the entire shoe for us along with the embedded circuit assembly at an affordable price so that we can sell the entire unit manufactured under my company Angel’s R&D. We are also in talks with some of the leading shoe brands who are ready to take this product for pilot testing in their existing models. We plan to provide two options to consumers; one is to buy the shoe with the sole already embedded inside or second is that they can only buy the sole and fix it in their existing pair of shoes.”
The beauty of his innovation is that while it addresses a very common issue faced by smartphone users, it doesn’t have any by-products and is therefore totally green. It’s not only a great option for city dwellers, but will also come in handy for people in rural areas who face power shortages and so this way they can charge their phones. Taking a cue from this initiative, Mandar wants to further explore the application of piezoelectric technique and is in talks with local municipal bodies for using the method to power lights in gardens.
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