Floor Burn

Running, dancing, and driving can power the future.


Published:

Who would have thought that a jogger could illuminate a street sign, or a sports fan could power a stadium light?

Meet Elizabeth Redmond, the brainchild behind Ann Arbor-based POWERleap, a product development firm focused on generating clean energy. While attending the University of Michigan, Redmond created SmartFloor, a device that covers a floor or staircase that produces and collects electricity from people’s day-to-day activities such as walking, running, dancing, and driving. “An important factor that’s going to be apparent to people is that they have a role in the energy environment,” Redmond says.

Although energy harvesting isn’t the typical subject matter for an art student, Redmond credits her quest for creating clean power to her upbringing on a farm in Whitmore Lake. “Raised in the country, connected to the earth, growing our food — (power) wasn’t a burden; that’s how life was,” she says.

After taking a physics class at U-M and talking to engineering professors, Redmond was intrigued by piezoelectricity, the electrical charge that occurs when materials such as crystals and ceramics are crushed or smashed. Taking such collisions a step further, Redmond created the prototype for the SmartFloor and set it on a sidewalk in Ann Arbor. The product was quick to generate demand from willing participants, and Redmond soon learned “it was much more than a design thesis.”

Redmond says the SmartFloor can help reduce energy use in a building or a parking structure by up to 50 percent. She also markets a related product, called PowerFloor, which uses electromagnetic induction to create energy. Redmond says each step taken on the PowerFloor can generate five watts of electricity, which is enough to power lights or signs. The cost of a 20-inch-square unit is about $500. Redmond expects the cost to come down to around $200 once production increases.

To help generate interest, PowerFloor was installed on a staircase and landing at one of the transportation hubs that lead to the main stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Redmond says the panels power an interactive screen, which lights up as fans traverse up and down the stairs. db

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Design Studio

Toll Brothers, a residential building outfit in metro Detroit, is using a 5,000- square-foot design studio to show off all of the different options they can build with.

Express Payment

A novel kiosk payment system launched in Detroit expands its offerings.

Grounds For Success

A fifth-grade class in southwest Detroit is selected as Young CEOs of the Year.

PDA Q&A: Alan Jay Kaufman, E-Interview

Interview with CEO of H.W. Kaufman Financial Group in Farmington Hills.

eGoals

Mark Bellissimo took over JRT Agency two years ago. Ever since, the company has been thriving.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Historic Detroit Club to Reopen in January, Be Private with Public Restaurant
    The historic Detroit Club at the northeast corner of Cass Avenue and Fort Street will reopen in...
  2. Black Star Farm’s VinBar in Ann Arbor to Offer Other Northern Michigan Wines
    Black Star Farms, which has operations on both the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas near...
  3. 30 in Their Thirties 2017
    Disruption is a key aspect of the 2017 class of 30 in Their Thirties, upending such traditional...
  4. University of Michigan to Host Venture Capital Competition Oct. 21
    The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is hosting UpRound, a venture capital (VC) competition...
  5. Cork and Gabel Restaurant to Open in Corktown Spring 2018
    Cork and Gabel, a restaurant fusion of Irish, Italian, and German cuisine, is slated to open in...
  6. Brooklyn Outdoor Launches Eastern Market Event Space
    Detroit-based independent outdoor advertising company Brooklyn Outdoor has made its headquarters...