Achilles' new heel : Shock absorbing, gait assisting and energy harvesting

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

1 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article number108293
Journal / PublicationNano Energy
Online published18 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


Humans have evolved to walk highly efficiently to conserve energy, making it challenging to develop assistive and energy-harvesting devices for walking. Herein, we report a heel pad-based assistance device for walking that not only optimizes the energetic economy of walking and prevents plantar fasciitis but also harvests energy from heel impact. Our footwear-embedded device improves the walking economy by offering shock absorption and walking assistance, while simultaneously providing energy-harvesting functions. We demonstrate that the use of our device reduces the activation of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles during the foot strike by 5.8 ± 1.0 % and 4.1 ± 0.6 %, respectively. The collisional energy conserved from the impact at the touchdown is transformed into 3.8 ± 0.3 watts of electrical power (mean ± SEM). Compared with walking in normal shoes, the energy savings with the device imply that walking endurance could be increased by as much as 10 % without extra effort from the wearer. Our findings demonstrate the potential of the heel pad-based device that enhances the energy economy of walking and human bipedal locomotion. © 2023 Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Energy harvesting, Energy conversion, Biomechanical energy transfer, Wearable device, Human walking, GENERATING ELECTRICITY, WALKING, DIAGNOSIS, PLANTAR, COST, MASS, ACCELEROMETER, ASSISTANCE, MECHANICS, STIFFNESS