Laurence Kemball-Cook, Founder & CEO
When one thinks about the different green energy technologies available today, the only names that come to one’s mind are solar panels, windmills, and tidal power turbines. The implementation of these technologies, however, is time-consuming and requires an exorbitant initial overhead cost. But, what if there was a way to generate clean energy without relying on over-convoluted and expensive tech? UK-based energy firm Pavegen answers this question with a resounding yes through its patented technology, which are tiles that convert footfall into clean energy.
Founded in 2009 by Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen manufactures and develops flooring tiles, which convert footsteps into electricity. Kemball-Cook developed the concept for his technology while researching kinetic off-grid energy solutions in environments where low-carbon technologies like solar and wind are not practical. Today, the company supplies permanent installations and experiential activations based on its proprietary technology to power off-grid applications such as games, lighting, and environmental monitoring.
Powering Future Cities
Every Pavegen tile consists of three components: an electromagnetic generator, a single triangular composite tile, and the weight of the individual that creates the necessary kinetic energy to convert the footfall into electricity. The specially-designed surface of the tiles consists of a series of interlocking triangles. As pedestrians walk across the Pavegen tiles, the weight of their footsteps causes the top surface to move vertically. This compresses the electromagnetic generators and produces two to four-watt seconds of electrical energy. The system also comprises low-power Bluetooth beacons that connect to smartphone apps and enables communication between Pavegen tiles and building management systems. At its core, Pavegen’s mission is to combine footsteps with its technology to create off-grid power; in other words, ‘Footsteps + Pavegen = Energy + Data.’
Kemball-Cook believes that the deployment of innovative technologies alone cannot make cities perform more efficiently, and citizens have to change their existing mindset to get smarter cities rolling. With Pavegen, Kemball-Cook offers individuals a way to interact with the sustainable generation of data and energy, driving the creation of smarter cities with every step.
During his time as a student of Loughborough University, Kemball-Cook recognized the significance of creating a solution that can generate power in open spaces within cities. Therefore, when he started engineering his unique product, he performed extensive research and due diligence to get a clear understanding of the potential of a robust and affordable product that can generate power. “Part of what makes our solution the energy alternative of the future is its durability and cost-effectiveness; we provide a power source that can act as floor tiles while providing energy and data to its surrounding area,” explains Kemball-Cook.
Delivering the Future of Digital Flooring
The latest iteration of Pavegen’s energy-generating technology, known as V3, can produce over 200 times the power of its first model. With this launch, the company is shifting its focus from a kinetic-only power generation vision into smart floors. For instance, the energy generated by the V3 can be utilized to bring advertising campaigns sustainably and improve the safety of off-grid lighting with its simple on-demand solution that illuminates the path as individuals walk over it. Furthermore, Pavegen’s flooring is entirely customizable to reflect any brand identity and seamlessly integrate with any indoor or outdoor space.
On the other hand, the data applications of the technology include a comprehensive analysis of consumer patterns by continuous footfall tracking and heat mapping. “With the V3, we have created a product that can reshape the way people move in cities. And with our ability to connect real people with digitalised systems through footsteps places us at the forefront of the footfall energy-harvesting market,” states Kemball-Cook.
To bolster its shift into data sciences, Pavegen collaborated with Tribal Planet—creator of mobile platforms that transform issue advocates into brand opportunities by motivating consumers to perform actions for social causes in exchange for rewards. With this partnership, the two companies created a digital platform that follows a ‘redeem and donate’ scheme. Through this framework, the energy generated by each individual’s footsteps provides people with an energy currency, which can then be redeemed in exchange for exclusive experiences and events access. This application of the Pavegen technology makes it an ideal solution in uniting communities and driving them toward a positive energy generation approach.
Helping Consumers Engage with Brands
Alongside its patented technology, Pavegen supplies a range of bespoke activation ideas that combine physical actions with digital feedback to increase consumer dwell times and amplify messaging. Some of Pavegen’s successful collaborations include selfie-tunnels, football shoot-outs, dance zones, and running battles—all tailored to target the specific objectives of a brand.
With our ability to connect real people with digitalised systems through footsteps places us at the forefront of the footfall energy-harvesting market
One of Pavegen’s brand activation stories is with the global automobile giant Mercedes-Benz. Pavegen partnered with Mercedes-Benz to create an exhilarating experience for visitors attending South by Southwest (SXSW), a global event for emerging tech. Mercedes-Benz and Pavegen designed a ‘Stress Inversion Transformer’ which allowed participants to stomp, scream, and shout for 30 seconds inside a closed container, as a way to relieve stress. The floor of the unit was fitted with Pavegen and the walls with custom-designed piezoelectric transducers. The power generated by participants was displayed on UV screens for bystanders to monitor in real-time, which featured the total amount of joules generated as well as the record amount produced in one session. The ‘Stress Inversion Transformer’ attracted hundreds of participants, nailing its goal of boosting engagement with the Mercedes-Benz brand. Other brand activation stories include partnerships with leading brands such as Adidas, Mitsubishi, Google, Cisco, Samsung, Gatorade, among others.
Putting People at the Centre of Power Generation
Pavegen has delivered more than 200 installations worldwide, which include transport hubs such as airports— Heathrow and Abu Dhabi airports, Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., a multitude of schools in the U .S. and UK, as well as corporate HQs and sports facilities in London, Rio, and Seoul. Highlighting the efficacy and potential of Pavegen’s technology is the company’s deployment in Broadgate, London. Being the largest pedestrianised neighbourhood in the city, Broadgate partnered with Pavegen to construct a 17 square-metre energy and data harvesting walkway. Designed to enable people to make a positive change in their city, the technology captured over 60,000 footsteps in a week and converted it into electrical energy to power lighting and donations for a local homelessness charity.
In another instance, Pavegen installed a 13 square-metre walkway at the Green Heart, which is the redeveloped centre of the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus. This deployment harvests the footsteps of up to 4000 students and staff per day to power USB charging at nearby benches, allowing students to charge their electrical equipment outdoors.
Sustainable Energy Generation for the World
Since its inception, Pavegen has grown from a five-person team to a 40-strong group of engineers, designers, and innovators around the world. In 2015, the company completed their first crowdfunding round on Crowdcube, raising a total of two million pounds and accumulating over 1500 investors. Subsequently, the company also signed a memorandum with global engineering and technology giant, Siemens, to develop smart city projects together. The multinational firm allowed Pavegen walkways to be connected to Siemens’ cloud-based operating system, allowing control and monitoring of Pavegen sites from any connected device. More recently, the company concluded another crowdfunding round, which secured funds from a leading global engineering conglomerate Hinduja Group and family investment firm Tamar Capital. “We believe in placing people at the heart of the smart city, and that’s why crowdfunding works so well for us. With the support of Hinduja Group, Siemens and Tamar Capital, our plan of making Pavegen technology ubiquitous for all cities becomes achievable,” concludes Kemball-Cook.