Remember Michael Jackson's music video for "Billie Jean"? Where the sidewalk tiles lit up whenever the King of Pop's patent leather shoes would touch them? Wouldn't it be cool if those tiles actually existed and, besides lighting up, produced electricity every time someone stepped on them?
Laurence Kembell-Cook, director of Pavegen Systems, thought it was a good idea. So he went ahead and designed Pavegen tiles that harvest the kinetic energy of pedestrian footsteps and converts it into electricity.
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Intended for areas with high-foot traffic, the tiles store energy in a lithium polymer battery or can be used to generate wattage for street lights, speakers, pedestrian crossings, alarms, signs and advertising.
Similar to the "Billie Jean" video, when the tile is stepped on, a central light illuminates as a friendly reminder to the pedestrian that they are helping generate 2.1 watts of electricity per hour.
The waterproof tiles are made from 100 percent recycled rubber and marine grade stainless steel. Each tile is reported to have a life span of 5 years or 20 million steps.
Again confirming my theory that the Pavegen tiles were inspired by the "Billie Jean" video, they were recently used as a dance floor at Bestival, a four-day music festival on the Isle of Wright in England. They're currently being used in a school hallway where they're helping to supplement the school's energy needs.
Last month, Pavegen received its first commercial order for the 2012 London Olympics where they will be installed at a crossing between the Olympic stadium and a shopping center.