“Piezoelectricity (pronounced /piˌeɪzoʊˌilɛkˈtrɪsɪti/) is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials (notably crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical strain.” – Wikipedia
In 2008, GOOD reports, a Dutch dance club created a piezoelectric dance floor that captured energy from the movement of dancers’ feet, and used it to change the color of the floor.
Luckily, it didn’t stop at disco. A Tokyo station installed a piezoelectric floor that produces enough energy to power ticket gates and displays. And Toulouse, France (one of this author’s favorite cities ever ever) installed pressure-sensitive sidewalk plates that power the streetlamps.
In Israel, piezoelectric strips embedded in the highway may produce enough power for 2,500 homes. And a piezoelectric pair of loafers might, one day, recharge your cell phone.
Think it’s too good to be true? Take a good look at your grandfather’s quartz watch, the first commercially-marketed piezoelectric device. If they could do it 60 years ago, they can do it even better now.
Want to make your own energy-producing floor? Steep learning curve, but there’s good information here: Making Piezoelectric Floor Tiles (pdf)