Marathon runner Kokan Ajanovski publicly tested a prototype for a revolutionary device that uses the energy generated by walking and running to charge mobile devices like phones and tablets, the United Nations Development Programme reported.
The device is the outcome of six months of development by a group of four students whose idea for the invention won a national Climate Challenge competition with a prize of USD 10,000 (EUR 9,180) to help develop the prototype. “Sometimes it’s felt like winning the competition was the easy part!” says Aleksandar Lazovski. “Since the win we’ve been working non-stop on the practical details of the design, consulting with experts and UNDP staff on the most effective ways to develop the prototype.”
The demonstration in a shopping centre showed the prototype is up and running, the press release said. “Who wouldn’t want these shoes soles? It’s a no-brainer,” said one shopper. “The only weird thing is they don’t already exist.”
The idea was first thought up by 19-year-old Loreta Todorovska, student of accounting. “I was getting so frustrated with forgetting to bring my charger with me that I started thinking of ways to attach a charger to clothes. Then I started thinking of how to cut out the need for a power source altogether.” She shared her idea with 21-year-old Martina Dimoska, student of nano-materials and robotics; 20-year-old Aleksandar Lazovski, student of marketing and management; and 20-year-old Nikolco Gošev, student of network technologies. Together they came up with the project for using energy from everyday walking and running to generate charging power.
The team had already worked together on other innovations, including establishing a non-governmental organization called Smart-Up dedicated to helping IT graduates develop their marketing and communications skills in order to get ahead in their careers and business. “We knew from the start it was a smart idea,” says Gošev. “But then we faced the hard questions of how to fund its development into a marketable product. We needed backing and we needed expert advice. And, fortunately, that’s when we heard about the Climate Challenge.”
Organized by UNDP with support from the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, the Swedish Embassy, USAID, MilieuKontakt and the Social Innovation Hub, the Climate Challenge sought to tap into the country’s talent by inviting the public to submit innovative ideas for mitigating climate change. Some 130 ideas were submitted and ten were shortlisted for the two-day Climate Camp.
They will be applying for a patent for their invention, making them the youngest patent holders in the country. “If there’s enough demand for the shoe soles,” says Martina, “the next step is to start up a company.”