Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shoe technology to charge cell phones

Anthony Mutua shows how to charge a mobile phone using a charger fixed in a shoe during the Science and Innovation week on May 8, 2012 at KICC Nairobi. Photo/SALATON NJAU

Anthony Mutua shows how to charge a mobile phone using a charger fixed in a shoe during the Science and Innovation week on May 8, 2012 at KICC Nairobi. Photo/SALATON NJAU 

By GATONYE GATHURA [email protected]

You can now charge your mobile phone from the sole of your shoe.

This will be good news for herdsmen, joggers and gym enthusiasts, since the more you walk or run, the more electricity your shoe will generate.

On Tuesday, this technology was among the innovations on show at the Science and Innovation Week taking place at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

Mr Anthony Mutua, 24, has developed an ultra-thin chip of crystals that generate electricity when put under pressure.

Through a process he has patented with the Kenya Industrial Property Institute, he is able to harvest this energy and turn it into electricity as one walks.

Mr Mutua, a graduate of Mombasa Polytechnic University College, explains that the chip is inserted inside the sole of any shoe, apart from bathroom slippers.

“The electricity is generated by the act of walking and running, and can be harvested in two ways.”

One way is to charge the phone while still in motion through a thin extension cable that runs from the shoe to the pocket.

“The other alternative, is to charge the phone immediately after a walk because the crystals have the capacity to store the electric energy,” Mr Mutua explained.

The second option through a technology that is just about to go into mass production, he says, is likely to prove quite popular with people who want to charge a mobile phone for others as a commercial activity, since it can service several phones simultaneously.

To have your shoe fitted by Mr Mutua who operates within Nairobi’s Central Business District, costs Sh3,800 and the technology comes with a two and a half year guarantee — but not if the shoe is stolen or lost.

“In case the shoe is worn out you can always transfer it to the new one.”

Mr Mutua says the National Council of Science and Technology is in the process of funding his project for mass production of the chips.

“This and the possibility of a bigger market could eventually bring down the purchase price.”

The development of Mr Mutua’s prototype was funded to the tune of Sh500,000 by the science council.

According to Mr David Ngigi, a senior science secretary with the National Council for Science and Technology, the council is now planning to finance Mr Mutua so that he can commercialise his product.

“We have been financing the development of ideas to prototype levels, but because most innovators lack funds for commercialisation, this innovations never reach the market. So we are changing this,” says Mr Ngigi.

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