Smart cities of the future would need to incorporate novel ways of generating power which will be used to manage assets and resources efficiently. At present, the “smart city” may seem to be more of a futuristic term than a reality. On the other hand, Pavegen has already developed the technology that uses footsteps to produce off-grid electricity and provide rich data. Pavegen perfectly dissolves within the smart city infrastructure by bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds. The same is reflected in the company mission statement:
“Our mission is to enable people to change the world for the better through the simple power of a footstep”
Pavegen was founded in 2009. The company operates in clean tech and digital marketing. Their digital ecosystem was developed with their partner Tribal Planet. Since then the company has grown from a bedroom operation to an organization which has completed 200 projects in 30 countries. The organization has a team of 30, headquarters in central London and R&D site at UK’s tech hub, Cambridge. They also have a network of 10 International Partners who distribute and service contracts around the world.
The firm serves both consumers and business. Their product is primarily sold to retail owners and occupiers; property developers and specifiers; brands; national governments and local authorities; community groups and organisations. Consumers have directly benefited from interactions with Pavegen walkways via the applications their footsteps power and the rewards they generate via apps. The types of rewards can be determined by brands or organisations either to be redeemed locally or in other locations.
Putting his best foot forward
Laurence had the idea of harvesting energy from regularly travelling through the transport hubs of congested cities. He realised that it could be possible to convert some of the kinetic energy of footfall and convert this into off-grid electricity and data. After establishing Pavegen as a start-up with a proven track record in both experiential and permanent installations, he needed funds to evolve Pavegen. In 2015, a successful crowdfunding campaign enabled Pavegen to invest in engineers, new tooling and people. Using CrowdCube, Pavegen managed to raise over £ 2million. By May 2016 Laurence had a top team around him and had launched the latest version of Pavegen, the V3. Pavegen’s board includes Jeff Martin as a lead investor, who was the digital marketing brains behind iTunes.
Laurence Kemball-Cook, Founder and CEO
Green flooring for everyone
The innovation-driven company is dedicated to converting the kinetic energy from a simple footstep into energy, data and rewards. There are two business applications of Pavegen’s V3 interactive tile technology, the permanent installations and the experiential applications arm. The V3 is the newest and most innovative product created by Pavegen, capable of generating a power output of up to 7 watts per person as they travel across a Pavegen walkway.
Pavegen’s V3 tile technology utilizes electromagnetic generators to convert the kinetic energy from footfall into off-grid electricity. Its new unique triangular design maximises energy output and data capture. Its high durability and deployability allow Pavegen to generate renewable energy where and when it is needed. As a pedestrian steps onto a tile, their weight generates a downward force which compresses the electromagnetic generator, producing 2 to 4 joules of electrical energy per step. The electricity that is produced can either be stored, or used to power applications and power data collection and transmission.
An essential in a smart city’s toolkit
The technology has evolved from a singular tile system, which generates electricity from footsteps, to an entire array with three multi-functional component parts. These functionalities are data, floor and energy. The tiles come fitted with low-power Bluetooth beacons, allowing them to register the footsteps of individuals via their apps, reward people for their steps and provide permission-based customer analytics.
Saving our planet one step at a time
From climate change to rapidly expanding cities, the world is facing complex environmental and social challenges. Technology alone won’t make cities perform more efficiently. It’s about changing behaviours as well. Pavegen’s energy technology with its unique physical interactivity is an aid we need. Unlike solar and wind, which are remote – on rooftops, in fields and out to sea, Pavegen enables citizens to participate directly in contributing to the sustainability of their city. This creates high engagement turning witnesses of climate impacts into advocates for change.
The future is green
Pavegen’s combination of physical interactivity and rich data is helping bring smart cities to life. The firm now aims to become a permanent and commercial smart-flooring solution. Pavegen’s next chapter will include investment in new tooling in order to reduce the manufacturing cost and the expansion of the marketing team to service international contracts.