My power went out last night. This wasn't as scary of an experience when I had a dumb phone, which could last multiple days without having to be charged. Now that I'm toting around a 5-inch monster with a quad-core processor, I'm nervous if my phone will even last until nightfall. That's why when I saw that SolePower had met their $50,000 goal on Kickstarter in order to develop a shoe insole that charges portable electronics while we walk, they had my undivided attention.

SolePower2 SolePower1


SolePower's insole slides into your usual footwear and charges a small battery as you walk, generating power both between steps and on impact. Once that battery is charged, users can plug it into their smartphone, from which it will extend like a USB dongle. SolePower aims to fully charge an iPhone (just a frame of reference, not the only targeted product) in two and a half miles of walking using these batteries. For some of us, that's about as useful as a solar-powered charger at night, but for others, it's just the incentive we need to get our backsides off the sofa.

SolePower's idea was born out of Carnegie Mellon University and is developed in Pittsburgh, PA. Anyone who pledges $75 or more will get an insole, and there are still seven days left to jump in. Keep in mind that those who do so will have quite a lengthy wait ahead. SolePower doesn't intend to start production and distribution until sometime between June and December of 2014. That gives us a year to get in shape before the product ships.


Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • ProductFRED

    Because everyone should look like they're on house arrest.

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      It says on the kickstarter page that the battery can be clipped to the top of your shoe if you don't want it on your ankle.

      • ProductFRED

        I'm sure the TSA will love that.

        I'm only teasing.

    • hyperbolic

      haha you nailed that!

  • Jose Torres

    The new Mac Pro: NOT innovation.

    THIS is innovation!

  • troph

    This is a very neat idea. Imagine walking to charge your battery. This is great for efficiency and may even help health :)

    I'd plan my jogs after work when my battery is dying :P

  • NoUsernamesFree

    This is going to make playing Ingress awesome. Now the only time I'll ever need to stop playing is while I sleep.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      Solution? Sleep walk.

  • wheineman

    I dare you to try using it in the Airport!

    • icyhotonmynuts

      Why would that be a problem?

      • DavidHuggs

        He meant that the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) would probably think that the device is some sort of an explosive artifact.

  • Nick Saulino

    The catch is that it is not charging your phone while you walk; it's charging the rechargeable battery enough to charge your phone in that 2.5 miles. Then you have to hook the rechargeable battery up to your phone, which will most likely take 2-3 hours to charge the phone. Still cool though, and better than not having ready power.

    And since it's a USB cable coming off it, you might be able to attach a longer cable and plug it directly into your phone.

    • Jörgen Pettersson

      This is really an issue for me, and I think they would've showed us if it could charge our phones directly.

      Also, the sole looks so thick I would need to buy new shoes and boots a size bigger just to fit the sole.

      • Robert Alex Kibler

        I don't know if it would be safe to directly charge our phones. It doesn't produce enough power to provide a steady charge, and I would imagine our phones have some sort of mechanism to ignore a really weak power source (or a really strong one), so even if it did spike to 5V at 1A every once in a while, I imagine our phones would just freak out switching between charging and not charging.

        • Jörgen Pettersson

          I suppose that could be solved with some kind of converter/stabiliser. A few years back I bought a solar charger that used a backup battery in between (solarmonkey with solarnut).

      • icyhotonmynuts

        You want to strap your phone to your leg, or have a 2m cable snake its way up your body, you go right again.

        • Guest

          I'm all for cables snaking its way up my leg!

        • Jörgen Pettersson

          I'm all for cables snaking its way up my leg! :)

    • someone_asdf

      If it could have a small cartridge slot for users with an external batter, it would be that much more awesome.

      • Nick Saulino

        That would be ideal. But, sadly, they're probably only really thinking about iPhones, since that's the only thing they actually show charging in the entire video.

  • HopelesslyFaithful

    i wonder if it affect how you walk and can cause health issues due to the device and sole

  • http://www.veritablevirgo.net Veritable Virgo

    I like the concept, but after seeing that woman in Switzerland with 3rd degree burns on her thigh from an exploded smartphone battery I'd be a bit cautious about having a battery wrapped around my ankle.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      Wow.. 1 woman with an exploding battery out of.. how many Galaxy S3 phones were sold since it was released? You have better odds of winning your area's lotto, or even better yet, getting struck by lightning, probably.

      In all likelihood the report was false, just like every other claim - like the guy in the UK last year who actually popped it in the microwave to dry off after dropping it in water.

      • Kevin

        Yes... but a battery on your shoe is going to take far more physical abuse than your typical smartphone.

        • Alex Lam

          Like walking?

          • icyhotonmynuts

            Don't forget running! Oh! And jumping. Probably some skipping in there too if you're young at heart.

  • icyhotonmynuts

    You're in a wheelchair? You're SOL.

    • Kevin

      FYI, harvesting electricity from a rotating wheel is a FAR simpler engineering task. Like those headlights on bicycles that light up when you peddle!

      • icyhotonmynuts

        But you have to peddle hard as hell to keep them lit. Stop biking? Lights go off soon after.

  • QwietStorm

    lol I don't want people to think I'm on house arrest.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      Why not? Find you're lost and ended up in a seedy part of town... no one will bother you because you'd fit right in. Keep running and no one will question a thing.

  • Alex Lam

    And that is why I keep a portable charger with me. 5600mah goodness

  • abprie

    nice idea, but why do military purposes always come up with useful things like this? there is no way I will fund something which actually says it will support war.

    • duplissi

      supporting war and supporting soldiers are two different things. fyi.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      What if it supports peace? Will you fund it, then?

  • Lumi

    Does this works with heels?

  • MrHtcOne

    I say develop a unit for my dog, 4 times the charging ability. More efficient !