These Boots Were Made for Charging

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How the Kinetic Boot can power electronics for the U.S. Military one step at a time

Whether walking, running or jumping, deployed U.S. Marines are constantly on their feet. As if constant movement wasn’t enough to trigger fatigue, many Marines also carry more than 15 pounds of batteries along with their other equipment just to recharge their power-hungry electronics and radios. That’s basically the equivalent of running a 5k race with a bowling ball on your back.

To alleviate the weight issue for deployed troops, Lockheed Martin has partnered with STC Footwear to design a boot that transforms kinetic energy from the full motion of footsteps into a functional power source. In its first design phase, the Kinetic Boot generates up to 1.5 watts of power per foot, allowing Marines to use this generated energy to charge reusable batteries or directly connect them to systems.

This easily transportable energy eliminates the need for soldiers to carry additional backup batteries, and it offers a power solution in remote environments or emergency situations.  Other energy harvesting solutions like solar power chest panels and helmets add significant weight to a soldier’s uniform, but the Kinetic Boot only adds two to three ounces of weight per boot while generating much more energy.

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U.S. Marines demo a Kinetic Boot prototype at ExFOB '14.  Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marines.

Lockheed Martin and STC Footwear demonstrated the Kinetic Boot’s energy harvesting capabilities at the Marine Corps' Experimental Forward Operating Base (ExFOB) event from May 12-16. The demonstration confirmed that a pair of the Kinetic Boots will generate between two to three average watts of power, enough to power an iPhone 5 three times after a 60-minute walk.

“The concept of harvesting energy from body movement, particularly walking, is not relatively new, but the efficiency of these systems has remained a challenge,” said Rebecca Schwartz, nanotechnology lead at Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. “However, with recent advancements in materials and manufacturing techniques, we were able to greatly improve the amount of generated power using the Kinetic Boot system.”

In collaboration with STC, Lockheed Martin will further optimize components of the system to achieve maximum power generation, and will ruggedize the design to facilitate testing in harsh military conditions. The ruggedized packaging will not only protect the Kinetic Boot’s components from various environments like dust and mud, but it will also standardize the components positioning which increases its reliability.  

“We’re excited about the endless possibilities for this technology,” said Michel Bisson, CEO and Chairman of STC Footwear. “Imagine long-distance runners or hikers who could power their phone or iPod regardless of where they are or how long they’ve been on the move.”

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May 21, 2014

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