7 years, 10 months ago
#MakerMonday with Archie Wilkinson
Talking about the gamification of energy saving with Head of Pavegen LIVE.
With a background working on award-winning brand experiences for the likes of M&C Saatchi, the House of Peroni and Ginsters Pasties, it’s no wonder the Founder of Pavegen Laurence Kemball-Cook wanted to snap up Archie to use his skills to get the world excited about his new technology, which makes going green fun. Since raising £750,000 in 58 hours on Crowdcube, which ended up as an impressive £1.93 million, Pavegen have expanded and refined their offering. Now Archie runs Pavegen LIVE, which finds innovative ways for brands to use Pavegen technology to power anything from arenas to dance floors. We caught up with Archie to hear more about Pavegen and the future of saving energy.
Q: So what exactly is Pavegen?
A: Pavegen is a cleantech company that harnesses the kinetic movement of your footsteps and turns it into renewable electricity and data. This means that we can produce energy where and when you need it, not huge amounts, but enough to power Pavegen street lights and smart city applications. It also means we can understand the flow of people walking through an area and we can trigger content and things to happen based on that data.
Q: Are you part of the National Grid?
A: No, we're not quite there yet in terms of selling to the National Grid. There are two parts of the business, Pavegen Systems which is focused on deploying at high footfall areas like airports and train stations, permanently; and then Pavegen LIVE which is focused on using the kinetic technology to power brand experiences and working with brands and agencies on a more temporary basis.
Q: Heading up Pavegen LIVE, you seem to be playing with the gamification of energy saving.
A: Exactly. You can't play with a wind turbine, you can't interact with a solar panel, but you can play with a Pavegen tile. There aren't many renewable sources that you can have a personal engagement with either as an individual or with your friends. At Pavegen, we think the gamification side of energy saving is huge. So is competition, look at Strava who are gamifying sports. If we learn from this and gamify your daily commute using an energy currency to reward you, then people will actually want to interact with their surrounding areas and cities.
Q: So is the gamification of energy saving going to revolutionise how we approach going green?
A: Yes, completely. If you want to influence behaviour, you have to make things fun and I think business is fun taken seriously. Look at what Volkswagen did with the piano stairs; they were influencing behaviour by getting more people to walk along the steps rather than the escalator. They also did another thing where they put a sound into some bins and when you drop something in the bin it would sound like it was falling down a well. If we can make our infrastructures and our trains run on electricity that’s powered by people walking along the pavements or if we can take things off grid and put people in control, it becomes a no brainer to behave in a green way. The world is becoming increasingly competitive and energy is now a moral issue. It's not about the cost as such anymore; it's about what we have to do to progress. We didn't leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stone. We can't leave the Fossil Fuel Age because we run out of oil. We have to evolve and grow up.
Q: What’s so exciting about Pavegen is how well people are responding to it.
A: Everyone understands Pavegen, from a four-year-old kid to an 87-year-old grandmother to a 40-year-old builder. People just get it: you walk and you generate energy. Soon, we'll take the lights off grid and actually reward the user for their behaviour. It's a closed loop which we want everyone to benefit from; connecting the physical, digital and human environments which we call “The Internet of Beings” because it’s about people not things.
Q: So what’s been the biggest project that you've done so far with Pavegen LIVE?
A: Our biggest project to date, was a project with Adidas in Victoria Park where we installed 90 tiles when they were launching the new PureBOOST X running trainer, which is all about energy. We put our tiles into one of the sections and as people walked over them LED lights and balls would react and respond and count how much energy we generated.
We also built a project last year with Sunglasses Hut, where we did a roadshow and created an LED dance floor which was powered by footsteps of the dancers.
Q: There's a danger when you team up with big corporations that you become part of greenwashing their carbon footprint.
A: Would you prefer a big corporation to spend a million pounds on just advertising or would you like them to spend a significant amount on a British company that allows it to invest and grow in building our future cities? I know what I’d prefer them to do. So yes, brands sometimes do use our technology to gain favour in the green community but equally, if we can influence a brand to become more ethical, then surely the danger is outweighed by the potential prospect of the long term impact.
Q: So what would be your dream project then?
A: Aside from putting a tile on the moon or generating energy for a space station, our dream project would probably be creating a connected campaign across different markets, where you can then see real time differences in energy generation and engage with different areas around the world in real-time, with our tiles in every capital city. If every capital city sees an idea like Pavegen, that will hopefully spark a curiosity and inspire future generations to build an environment we all want to live in.
Q: Back on planet Earth, what does the rest of 2016 hold for Pavegen then?
A: Well, look out for our new installations in London and Washington and also our new system this May. We're exploring ways in which we can find solutions so when we walk across a Pavegen walkway we benefit from it. From a Pavegen LIVE perspective, we've got some really exciting projects in the pipeline, which could see us testing something new, which you've never seen before. It’s an exciting year ahead so watch out and give us a follow on our Twitter handle; @pavegenlive.