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ActiveAir footwear helps to reverse the damage of air pollution by directly filtering the air at ground level through the soles of your shoes.

  • ActiveAir footwear – the future of walking. 3D Render

  • ActiveAir footwear – the future of walking (Vimeo).

    ActiveAir footwear – the future of walking (Vimeo).

  • ActiveAir dynamic footwear that directly filters the air through the soles of our shoes.

  • ActiveAir footwear uses biomimicry as a reference in its shoe structure.

  • ActiveAir footwear - air filtration flow graphic.

  • ActiveAir footwear - 3D printed shoe

What it does

Wearing ActiveAir footwear allows people to be part of a collective culture by making micro-contributions to cleaning the air around them. Walking in ActiveAir allows the user to experience part of a broader social impact by contributing to a cleaner London.

Your inspiration

London is regularly exceeding the legally binding pollution limits set by the EU. Whether commuting to work or school; jogging or walking; the noxious gases and particulates penetrate deep into our lungs, posing a significant health risk. ActiveAir asks what if everyone in the city could make a positive impact through an active micro-contribution towards removing pollutants directly from their surroundings. We were inspired by The Climate Optimist, Stop Killing Londoners campaign, Andrew Grieve (KCL), Shamees Aden Amoeba trainer, Adidas, Run for the Oceans, Adidas x Parley, Nike Flyprint technology and Nike Epic React.

How it works

ActiveAir is a dynamic footwear that directly filters the air at ground level through the soles of our shoes. With every step taken up, a one-way valve lets in polluted air which is then pushed out through the layers of filters in the sole when you step down – trapping the particulates and expelling clean air. Thinking about how lungs work: a large opening (our throat) splits into multiple consecutive branches (bronchi) to reach the maximum possible surface area (alveoli). ActiveAir has larger inlet valves near the top of the shoe, which split into branches to direct air across the whole filter in the sole – allowing deeper penetration, maximising the surface area of the filter used, and increasing purification efficiency. The denser the filtration material, the smaller the particles that can be trapped. ActiveAir is currently investigating materials to filter out particles as small as 2.5 µm (PM2.5), whilst providing optimal haptic feedback to the users step.

Design process

ActiveAir was created to actively reverse London’s pollution problem through mass air filtration. With large individual filtration systems being highly energy intensive, we sought to find a way in which micro-contributions could be used to solve the problem. With 10 million Londoners moving around daily, the action of walking can be used as a pump and hence a shoe was designed to encompass a filter which would spring back with your step, sucking in dirty air and pushing out clean air on stepping down. Using biomimicry as a reference, we looked at how to maximise air intake to ensure efficient use of the whole filter within the sole. One of the biggest challenges of designing a wearable filter is the requirement of a pressure recovery structure to achieve a constant pump-action mechanism. Through 3D scan/print technology, and algorithmic methodologies, we have the potential to produce custom complex structures to enhance compression recovery, achieving an efficient yet comfortable walk. We are also currently investigating washable or biodegradable filter materials to ensure the product does not have plastic components as well as working with filter specialists at Imperial College Mech. Eng and Design Engineering Depts. to control airflow through the use of multiple valves.

How it is different

ActiveAir is the future of walking. Directly filtering large volumes of air is extremely difficult and energy intensive, but ActiveAir aims to create a collective culture of micro-contributions to cumulatively filter large volume through individual actions. As a concept it has the potential to not only raise awareness about the high levels of air pollution in London, but also to make a significant impact on the air we breathe. Air filtration itself is an old technology having been used in car engines, air conditioning units and a myriad of other technologies. It is effective, but energy intensive. To our knowledge, there are no other wearable products on the market that can be used daily as well as being self-powered by the individual user, making it a unique new invention. ActiveAir therefore has the chance to not just be another consumer product, but to transform the culture of walking by contributing to a bigger movement of change around the air we breathe.

Future plans

MVP // Aug - Oct 2018 / – Scan diverse 3D foot sizes – Create parametric algorithm based on 3D data – Print 10 different sizes shoe prototype – User test, feasibility check of shoe structure // Oct - Dec 2018 / – Design filter structure – Filter prototyping – Filter function test (Imperial lab with filter specialist Dr. Larry Tse (Mech. Eng)) // Jan - Feb 2018 / – Embed filter in sole – User test // Market research // Aug - Sep 2018 / – Fashion retail industry collaboration research – Marathon campaign collaboration research – Indoor uniform industry research – Gym partnership research


– Second place at Makerversity's 'Tools for Change' hackathon. – Prototype Exhibited at Somerset House (June 2018).

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