Phone-charging boots: Walk (a lot) to talk

Twelve hours of stomping in the Orange Power Wellies keeps your feet dry and gives you enough power to charge a phone for an hour.

I really want a pair of Orange Power Wellies, largely so I can say that I'm wearing "wellies," a word we just don't use enough on this side of the pond. But also because they're terribly cute thermoelectric rubber boots that charge your mobile phone using heat from your feet. These could come in very handy when hiking, camping, or engaging in other activities that lend themselves to wellie wearing but not to power outlets.

Orange Power Wellies
Orange

U.K. mobile operator Orange teamed with renewable-energy company GotWind to create the boots, which feature a power-generating sole that converts feet heat into an electrical current. This "welectricity," as they're calling it (geddit?), can then be used to recharge a phone, which you plug in to the top of the wellie for a recharge.

The prototype Wellington boots will make their debut at the U.K.'s Glastonbury performing arts festival, a huge open-air entertainment blowout that this year runs from June 23 through June 27. Many festivalgoers camp out, making it a smart spot to show off a prototype eco-friendly kinetic charger. We wish we knew how much the Orange Power Wellies will cost if they hit the broader market.

We do know that 12 hours of stomping through the fest's muddy grass in the boots will keep your feet dry and supposedly give you enough power to charge a cell phone for one hour. In other words, these wellies were made for walking--and you're gonna have to walk plenty if you want to talk and text.

We've come upon other kinetic methods of charging gadgets, of course, including a "piezoelectric" rubber material out of Princeton and Caltech that produces electricity when flexed and could one day find its way into shoes that power cell phones and other mobile electronic devices as the user walks or runs.

In the case of the Orange Power Wellies, power is collected via the so-called Seebeck effect, in which a thermoelectric device creates a voltage when there's a different temperature on each side. The soles of the wellies house an array of semiconductor materials sandwiched between two thin ceramic wafers; when heat from the foot is applied on the top side of the ceramic wafer and cold is applied on the opposite side (from the cold of the ground), electricity is said to be generated.

This isn't the first time Orange has conceived of sustainable technologies for the Glastonbury Festival. Last year, the company unveiled a concept solar tent in conjunction with the opening of the event.

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.

 

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