Photo courtesy of Pavegen.

Just in case you thought the only thing going on at the London Olympics was Ryan Lochte getting laid and people complaining about some poor girl’s hair, well, there was actually much more happening right under people’s noses. Or, more accurately, under their feet. Great (literal!) strides in renewable energy history were being taken, by way of an emerging technology called footfall harvesting.

Inventor Laurence Kemball-Cook, a 26-year-old industrial design engineer, created a tiled walkway from the West Ham underground station to Olympic Park. The walkway looked ordinary enough, but the tiles were capable of converting the force of people’s footsteps into electricity — more than enough electricity to keep the walkway streetlamps illuminated at full power all night, and at half power during the day.

Naturally, footfall harvesting is a little more complicated than “you walk on it and electricity happens.”  That said, a) you probably wouldn’t understand a more complicated explanation and b) Kemball-Cook is holding these secrets close to his chest because one day, hopefully, he’s planning on making some actual cash off that brain of his.

The power-generating tiles can also be found in Australia, at Melbourne’s Federation Square, where they are generating electricity for a shopping center. Hey, if humans create a lot of footfall energy, just think of what a kangaroo could do!

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