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[Image above] Credit: Vocativ; YouTube


Everywhere we turn, it seems like there is new technology designed to improve our environment.

We have smart windows that reduce light and heat in buildings. We have smart concrete that can keep us connected, melt ice, and possibly notify authorities of accidents. And many U.S. cities are taking the initiative to make their communities smarter.

All this technology is designed to make our lives easier. But why not get the benefits of all this “intelligence” involved in the process?

A local company in London has taken a literal step forward to do just that—by getting residents to power street lamps along Bird Street as they walk.

Pavegen, a London-based company that provides smart flooring solutions, installed interactive tiles on this side street located just off the main drag of Oxford Circus. Although the installation more closely resembles a giant tile rug, the tiles trigger multiple generators with each footstep, according to the company’s website.

Billed as the “world’s first smart street,” the electricity-generating pavers not only power street lamps, but also air purifiers located in benches along the street that filter out harmful nitrogen dioxide.

The technology can do much more than light the way and clean the air, however—it can provide data from all that footstep activity. Pavegen says the technology can also monitor footsteps and directional flow to predict peak times and traffic patterns.

But how do you incent people to help the environment? With an app and retail discounts of course! Because it’s more fun to actually see the impact your walk has on the environment, Pavegen provides an app that shows users how much electricity they’ve generated with their steps. The company also rewards pedestrians with vouchers and discounts to local stores, just for walking on the interactive street.

Pavegen has already completed more than 150 installations around the world, including a busy street in Washington D.C., where it predicts more than 10,000 pedestrians will walk on 240 square feet of tiles. And in Rio de Janeiro, soccer players are powering the lights around their field with the company’s interactive tiles.

It looks as though the future of outdoor lighting might lie in our own feet.

Watch the video below to see how the tiles work.

Credit: Vocativ; YouTube