The average human generates about eight watts of energy with each step, most of it expended in vibration. A London architecture firm called The Facility hopes to capture some of this energy and turn it to useful purposes. A few watts per step may seem negligible until you multiply it by the 30,000-odd people who pass through a London subway hub at rush hour. The company proposes putting small hydraulic generators in the stations' floors to capture vibration and convert it to electricity.

The Facility plans to install a prototype energy-harvesting staircase next year in a Tube station in south central London to test the idea. Dubbed “The Pacesetter,” the technology should be able to harvest three to five watts per step, according to the firm, meaning the crowd during rush hour could generate enough watt-hours to power the station, and possibly more. The Facility envisions future applications wherever natural or human-generated vibrations occur — city streets, gymnasiums, and so forth.

It occurs to EW that train stations outfitted with elaborate mazes in their entryways could multiply the benefits by combining entertainment, crowd control, power generation and weight-reduction.

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