Genius ideas are often simple and few things are as simple as taking a few steps.
PaveGen is a UK technology company that harness the energy of footsteps to create electrical power. This innovation is turning wasteland into sports grounds and bringing light into the lives of some of the world's most impoverished people.
Our friends at Bloomberg Media Studios recently told us about PaveGen and their story genuinely inspired us. Laurence Kemball-Cook is the Founder and CEO and he's on a mission to take our footsteps and turn them into a global ‘power' movement.
Below he tells us all about his revolutionary product, its potential to change the world and what his next move will be. Watch the films or read on to find out more.
Laurence, tell us about PaveGen:
“PaveGen generates energy from people's footsteps. Every time they walk on our tiles our technology captures their movement and turns it into kinetic energy. The more people walk, the more power we can create.”
Where is the technology being used?
“We've got operations in about nine countries at the moment. We've installed about 200 sites around the world, so that goes as far as Korea, where we're powering motor factories.
“We're also in Nigeria, powering soccer pitches and in Rio De Janeiro, we're working on a number of public infrastructure projects.
“Recently the US has been huge for us. We've got great saturation globally and now it's about focussing on those core markets that are going to give us growth.
It's not just about power, is it? PaveGen tiles generate data and engagement as well.
“Yes. One footstep will give you about 20 seconds of light on a LED fitment. But it also produces data or heat mapping, for retailers, for example.
“But we've also got a way to connect it to your mobile device. So, we actually know who you are, when you walk onto a PaveGen space and we've got a reward mechanism, based on how many steps you take.
“If you make 50 steps, we'll give you a financial equivalent for the energy you're making in that environment.”
Is it limited to just people walking or could you pave a road for cars to drive over?
“Right now we're focussed on public spaces. The tiles are in in Heathrow Airport, they're on Oxford Street but that's the easy stuff. Now the big challenge is roads.
“When a truck locks its break up, at 50 miles per hour, there's enough force to rip the tarmac off the road and trying to innovate in that space and be a start-up is hard. So, at the moment, for us, cars are further down the line.
“Being an ingredient brand, there's no reason why we can't use the energy from people sitting on office chairs, to people in vehicles and even in the sole of a shoe or a building moving in the wind. There's no reason why we can't use our core IP and take it into those spaces.
“Our plan to exploit these opportunities over the next 12, 24 and 36 months. No one's ever really commercialised flooring, like this, in this way. It's an old idea, but we're really at the forefront of where this kind of new area lies.”
Laurence had the idea for PaveGen in 2008. He created his first prototype in 2009. In 2010, the company created their first batch production and in 2011 they made several more.
Today their tiles are popping up all over the place and they're already changing lives. In Rio De Janeiro, for example, they've used football player's steps to light up football pitches in a deprived area that is prone to power shortages.
PaveGen have learned a lot on their journey, advancing their product by thinking about people, their behaviour and what motivates them, adding an app and commercial component for brands to engage with. It's a smart move and one that could pay off for the entire planet in the long-run.
People walk up to 150 million footsteps in their lifetime but this energy is largely lost, disappearing into the ether. When you couple the potential of human kinetic energy with biofuel, which could be produced at home, or solar energy, that could be stored from your rooftop, you begin to see how future cities could be powered, at least in part, by the energy we create ourselves, in our daily lives.
In the grand scheme of energy consumption, PaveGen's work is a small, but very exciting step in the right direction and we can't wait to see where it leads.
The 2018 International Business Festival (12-28 June 2018) will present nine themed core days. One will be centred around urbanisation and cities, another around sustainable energy.
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