Who can forget Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 (the Don Adams character, not Steve Carell), with his handy, dandy shoe phone. Smart phones these days are a lot more advanced—they no longer have rotary dials for one. On the other hand, Mr. Smart never did have to plug in his shoe to charge it.

A new startup called InStep Nanopower may have the perfect solution. They have developed a way to harvest as much as 20 watts just from walking. That’s enough to charge a cell phone, a flashlight, or a camera, and give that laptop iPad the extra boost it needs.

The charging device is located in the shoe. Two small pouches with a specially designed fluid create electricity when they are pressed over and over in a process called “reverse electrowetting.” It’s the same movement used in walking—the heel and ball of the foot goes up and down, generating electricity. The smart shoe also contains an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot transmitter, so the shoes do not waste energy looking for a mobile hotspot.

In Get Smart, Maxwell Smart had to remove his shoe to talk. These days, however, things are much simpler. Since there is no need for secrecy, all anyone has to do is run a wire from the shoe to the phone, saunter down the street, and the phone is charged—and they can shed some pounds doing it.

It gives a whole new meaning to tying shoes.

Read More at NBC Bay Area.
Read More at Science Magazine.
Read More at the Instep Nanopower website.