Pavegen floor tiles generate electricity by harnessing the power of footsteps. Tread on a tile and the surface depresses up to one centimeter. The downward force drives an energy-storing flywheel inside the tile, which spins to convert kinetic energy into electrical energy through electromagnetic induction. It’s like a generator.
These tiles can conceivably go anywhere there’s floorspace and foot traffic—think airport terminals, sidewalks, and playing fields. That idea has attracted support from companies as big as Shell and celebrities as famous as Al Gore.
Pavegen tiles have already been used to help light soccer pitches in Brazil and Nigeria, a hallway in Heathrow Airport, and offices and shopping centers in London.
It’s highly unlikely that Pavegen’s technology will outshine the promise of solar or wind power, but its unique ability to make the road toward greener energy tangible is what makes it exciting.