Shopping centre walkway converts steps into rewards

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Smart city projects are emerging everywhere. From paving slabs that can provide wifi coverage to a traffic light that adjusts to a pedestrian’s level of mobility. The latest is a shopping centre in London that is converting footsteps into energy and shopping rewards.

The Mercury shopping centre in East London is installing a new walkway at its entrance which converts the kinetic energy of footsteps into electricity. Screens above the walkway will provide customers with information on how much electricity their footsteps are generating. Customers will also be able to download The Mercury Smart Rewards app. The app offers ‘Smart Rewards’ points for discounts and offers at the centre, based on how much energy each customer has generated.

The walkway at The Mercury uses a system developed by UK-based company Pavegen Systems, which we first featured in 2010. Rubber slabs are depressed by the weight of people walking over them. This movement is then converted into electricity, which is stored in the slab. The project at The Mercury joins around 150 projects which the company has installed around the world. The Mercury has a commitment to sustainability and has already installed solar panels, invested in highly efficient heating systems and plans to achieve zero waste to landfill in 2018. However, unlike those ‘silent’ eco-initiatives, customers using the walkway and Smart Rewards app will have the opportunity to directly engage with sustainability.

Takeaway: The Pavegen system hopes to increase human engagement with smart city design. According to Laurence Kemball-Cook, founder of Pavegen, the technology offers people the chance to connect to technology with minimal effort, commenting that, “Just by taking a step, we can enable people to become part of a positive story.” The project also taps into two recent trends in retail – turning the shopping trip into a ‘shopping experience’, and incorporating the internet of things. Who knows, it may even encourage people to walk more. Will walkways that convert footsteps into electricity help to boost customer visits?

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