Smart city — probably the most obvious area in which to implement the latest technology. It is difficult to find an area where so many bad ideas attracts so much attention. The door locks on the entrance to the office, scanning heartbeat, become useless, if you are late and want to get into the building in a hurry. Self — cleaning sidewalks- not a bad idea, but the rain better, and not charged for it.

In 2013, some boldly predicted that by 2020 the global market for smart cities technologies will grow to $400 billion But changes are still going at pedestrian speed. It was probably for the best.

The strategic partnership between London-based startup Pavegen and Hinduja Group, a huge industrial conglomerate, working in the UK and India, can help bring innovative solutions in the field of smart cities from a technological exhibitions directly to the streets. Pavegen is a small firm with big ambitions, who wants to turn a human steps into electricity. The company argued that the energy of one step will be enough to power 3-watt LED light bulb within seconds, or if you take a clear example, 6 seconds talking on the iPhone 8.

The idea is very interesting, and even if everything is reduced to eating bulbs. Remain certain difficulties, namely the price of technology today is depending on of the project from 100,000 pounds ($127 000) up to 1 million pounds ($1.27 million). CEO and founder of Pavegen Laurence Kemball cook admits: “We need to reduce the price from the current level by 50%. We are now planning to reduce the costs to $50-100 per square meter. But technology can not be from the first day so cheaper at the click of your fingers”.

The movement is, though not very fast. The first batch of coatings was sold for 20 000 pounds ($25 400) per square meter, but the challenge for business is not just having good ideas. The idea should be equally effective in different production scales. In this case, the following components of success: low cost for 60 million UK residents as they are attractive the price tag to more than one billion people in India and the potential energy production for the whole of the subcontinent. This is a huge step up from Pavegen as ideas to Pavegen as a full-fledged business.

But while this is still far away — that’s why the Alliance with the Hinduja implies much more than just funding. Thanks to this cooperation from Pavegen is a team of 1,400 engineers in Chennai in southern India.

Vivek Nanda, CEO of Hinduja for investment and the link between the British Indian billionaires and their funded startups, said: “the Project at the Central railway station Mumbai was one of our first joint initiatives with Lawrence. Every day through the station, there is a huge flow of passengers, probably the most intensive in the world.”

Why is it investors?

Hinduja Group operates in various fields, from trucks and lubricants to banking and cable television. Brothers Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja live in London, Prakash Hinduja works in Geneva, and youngest Ashok Hinduja remaining in Mumbai, responsible for the group’s interests in India. Their business consciously relies on smart cities and the initiatives that Vivek Nanda calls the projects “on the horizon of the future.” He adds: “Technology becomes more important in the city. On the contrary, they create for cities favorable environment for development, where all elements are closer to each other interconnected. Smart city technology is becoming an environment for analyzing data and forming them into a database that will eventually allow you to embed them into the existing infrastructure and make the city a more holistic system.”

Nanda emphasizes that when the company learned about Pavegen via the Internet, the project was for her “an excellent investment direction” in the twenty-first century, a kind of breath of fresh air.

The Indian giant is looking for other startups, which would combine the London professionalism and Indian the potential to yield a truly mass production. Nanda said: “the Pace of urban growth in India is incredible. They grow even faster than it can be controlled by the local infrastructure. In order to give people the ability to manage processes and data flows in their cities, we need fresh ideas”.

Urban vertical

“For many people, a smart city means very different things. In a sense, the city has always been smart. That is, even the accommodation in the city a little more reasonable than staying outside,” — said the expert in urban planning, Professor at University College London Michael Batty.

In the main the works of Betty books “of the City as a complex system” and “the New science of cities”, it is possible to find aggregate data on the methods of computer simulation of cities and regions.

“In the United Arab Emirates is Masdar smart city with all the attendant bells and whistles, says Betty. — And, quite likely, those in the world already about a dozen”. Smart makes their particular attention to technological detail. The scientist immediately warns: “They are built from the top down, and the fact that in modern society is approved from the top, it never goes smoothly. It is unclear to what measures the city can be embedded with sophisticated information technology, because the city is a socio-economic environment, where the residents specialise in a variety of cases.”

The next step
Kemball cook shows me around the lab Pavegen. Becomes clearer how the new technology — in fact, it is the top that you can push, but he continues to spin and generate energy. The latest version of the device has a flexible coating with a triangular pattern. When I get up on this miracle of technology, the led turns on, then slowly fades out.

It is not clear why this technology has not yet appeared everywhere. Company for ten years, and Kemball cook in startup circles is considered a true veteran. No ads with celebrities, by the way, also can not do. Queen Elizabeth II, for example, last year, lit their steps tiles at the world-famous flower show in Chelsea. Support startup also has Jeff Martin, the legendary “digital wizard”, which Apple was the Director for development of media and was one of the originators iTunes.

Can we expect soon a radical change? Or Pavegen is just a marketing ploy for corporations like British Petroleum and Shell to play to the audience and to show how they care about the environment? Maybe the startup is primarily a tool for collecting data to track your location and when you find yourself next to some coffee shop to offer coffee at half price?

Kemball cook emphasizes that Pavegen is primarily informed decisions. Firm can’t just uproot and gather up the easy money, which, by and large, is not necessary. Special attention to the founder of a startup pays for what if the company receives “$100 million venture capital investment in the short term, it will be for us the beginning of the end”.

Kemball-cook believes that the heyday of the concept of smart cities will come when they will create “a layer between the digital and the physical nature of the city”

And he does not believe in the Internet of things: “I believe that silly stuff like a lot of technology. If the door lock will be let into the building by utilizing the pace heart rate of the incoming, it will not make the city better.”

However, it is very difficult to get rid of the idea that such a mundane thing as a human step possible to radically rethink and transform into a renewable source of electricity. Even if in the coming years it will be only a small fraction of the whole energy — it will be a great success.

“People look at us and think we offer the solution to all energy problems of the planet. But we must distinguish between what is in our power and what we can’t. We will not supply electricity all over the world. Then I said, turn off the power, we have people here go. I just want to make the world a better place by the power of a single step,” concludes the head of Pavegen.

Translation Of Anton Bundina

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