Pavegen takes a bold step towards People-Powered Cities

THE MEMO | By Oliver Smith

More energy efficient and smarter, has Pavegen finally cracked turning footsteps into power?

The dream of powering our cities from the people within them has taken a step closer to reality.

This morning Pavegen took the wraps off the new version of its smart energy-producing flooring tiles.

Not only do the new tiles generate 200 times the power of Pavegen’s original power generating tiles in 2009, but they’re also smarter than ever before.

Smarter steps

“Everyone gets excited about how much progress has been made in energy generated from footsteps, but this is more than just kinetic energy,” said Pavegen’s CEOLaurence Kemball-Cook.

On stage Kemball-Cook showed how the new tiles can now connect with your smartphone to let you record your steps and the energy you’ve generated, something which he believes will become a new form of digital currency.

He was joined by Jeff Martin, a former Apple executive and founder of Tribal Planet. Martin is working to develop a mobile app to take your Pavegen steps and turn them into this digital currency, which might be redeemed for a discount in a shop that uses Pavegen or donated to a good cause.

“Sustainable energy [from Pavegen] will be a currency that we accumulate, it’s a vote on where we’re going and who we support, we’re letting merchants and the Government know what matters to us,” said Martin.

Walking on Pavegen

We took a few steps on Pavegen’s new tiles at the launch this morning, and they are clearly a vast improvement over the company’s previous tiles.

While walking on Pavegen has always felt mushy, a by-product of the tiles having to move up and down to capture our footsteps, the new 3rd generation tiles are far less mushy.

That might sound minor, but Kemball-Cook said his vision is to put this technology into “every building, every road in the world”, so every little refinement helps

The tiles also interlace as they’re triangle, Pavegen says this means that less energy is wasted if someone steps on the corner of a tile, it also feels more like proper flooring, unlike the previous square patchwork of tiles.

But don’t just take our word for it, you’ll soon be able to try them yourself. Pavegen is going to be rolling out tiles, starting in Westfield shopping centre in Stratford with an installation covering the entire entrance by October this year.

On Oxford Street and in Washington DC it’s tiles will also be installed to power outside light and, of course, collect data on the movement of people.