Panels that generate energy from vibrations have been laid by ticket gates through which up to 80,000 passengers pass every day at Tokyo station.
In theory, the system consisting of slates, rubber sheets and ceramics can generate enough energy to power automatic ticket gates or electric billboards at the station.
In Fitting A New Suit, the main character (a Japanese man) keeps a “treadpad” inside his room and is obligated to generate energy with it as part of his living arrangement. (He’s a hikikomori.) Initially I was inspired by a story at Pink Tentacle about a very similar-sounding technology — perhaps it was an article on the proposal for this programme. Either way, let’s hope it works. The retrofitting of each major train station might take a while and annoy some passengers, but I’ve been there, and I know: harnessing that kind of foot-power could go a long way to making each station energy independent.