Pavement has traditionally been nothing more than a surface people walked on to get from point A to point B. Now, a new breed of intelligent pavement options allow pedestrians to do a whole lot more, from generating power to downloading coupons to use in shops.
Pavegen Systems Ltd from London has developed tiles that harvest renewable energy from footsteps every time someone walks on them. The technology converts the kinetic energy into electricity which can immediately power off-grid applications such as pedestrian lighting, way-finding solutions and advertising signage, or be stored in a battery.
The top surface of the flooring unit is made of 100 per cent recycled rubber and the base of the slab is constructed from over 80 per cent recycled materials. The slabs are waterproof to allow them to operate efficiently in both internal and external environments. The system can be retrofitted in place of existing flooring systems or specifically tailored for new developments.
Meanwhile in Portugal, a QR code has been embedded in the black and white cobblestones covering the Rua Garrett in Lisbon’s Chiado, to provide more convenient access to information to strollers.
The brainchild of marketing agency MSTF Partners, the code is one square metre in size and enables tourists and shoppers to download information regarding local culture, cuisine and commerce.
This new generation of intelligent pavement has been taken a step further by Spain's Via Inteligente. Using an operative system, apps and sensors provide the streets with a range of enhanced functions and communications for the city’s inhabitants.
iPavement integrates services such as plans of cities and public transportation, leisure, virtual libraries and business promotions. It also provides access to the Internet and information about major events in the city. This has been made possible by using wireless and Bluetooth technology to send messages directly to mobile phones and tablets
The system has two formats, Classic and Accessible, the latter of which fulfills the regulation of universal accessibility, and is grooved for the blind or the visually impaired.
iPavement’s main integrated apps include VIA-Book, which its developers claim is the first library embedded in the pavement, enabling publication of local works for the promotion and distribution of local culture. VIA-MAPS allows pedestrians to use the catalogue on the map to uncover the city’s key cultural and gastronomic sites of interest. VIA-SOUND reproduces local music and concerts, while VIA-COUPONS sends promotion coupons from local shops direct to your mobile phone.
More than just these gimmicks, it also provides intelligent warnings via Bluetooth concerning pavement that is in poor condition, ice hazards or traffic incidents. It also allows councils to gather statistical information concerning footfall and the occupation of public spaces.
The company has found business partners in Europe, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates for the commercialization of its innovation, which could be rolled out in streets around the world very soon.