While new technologies and eco-solutions are being generated every minute, you might think some products are beyond rethinking. A pencil. An undershirt. A paperclip.

I probably would have put flip-flop sandals in that category, but if you did, think again, because Pluggz has rethought the humblest of outdoor footwear to create something totally new: Sandals that, for $39 a pair, will bring you the electrical benefit of walking barefoot on the Earth.

That's right, these are thongs you'll get a charge out of. If you check the photo at right you'll notice a little circle near the middle - this is the "plug" - a "custom-formulated carbon and rubber compound" that is situated directly under the weight bearing part of your feet, so that when you walk, you're literally "grounded" by connecting more directly to the Earth.

And why is that important? Well, the Pluggz site explains:

Throughout our evolutionary history, our internal electrical homeostasis has been maintained by simple barefoot contact with the earth. The planet beneath our feet acts as a vast "buffer" or charge reservoir that can stabilize our inner electrical environment to optimize our body functions. Most modern shoes and building materials disconnect us from the earth most of the time. The result: internal electrical imbalances that compromise our health and inner regulations. To feel our best, we need to connect with the earth as much as we can.

I tried the Pluggz flip-flops out while on vacation, though I wound up having fewer occasions to wander through grass and/or walk directly on the earth than I would have hoped. The press materials say that while doing so, "you might feel a small sensation coming from the ball of your foot. This is our plug going to work. Or, you may feel nothing at all as the earth's energy is subtle."

Well, yeah, it was subtle enough that I didn't really notice anything while walking. The upside is that the flip-flops were plenty comfortable - and stylish, I supposed, though I'm not sure how far that metric can go in the case of flip-flops - and that central plug didn't distract or interfere with the laid-back pleasure of this iconic summer footwear. Most people who saw me in them thought I was just takin' it easy, not realizing I was in the midst of a futuristic science experiment.

The longest steady exposure to the forces of the earth came when we made an unscheduled stop in Atlantic City and I walked for a significant distance on the beach in the Pluggz. Eventually I wanted to walk in the surf barefoot so I took them off (which, technically, should have maintained my direct energy charge, since barefoot walking is what Pluggz seek to simulate). I did have a certain sense of well-being, but that might just have been the sun+sand+sea effect. I should point out, though, that later my family and I walked the entire boardwalk and back and I seemed to be the only one who still had a spring in my step by the time we got back to where our car was. So maybe there is something going on with this conductive-electricity footwear.

Pluggz also makes loafers and ballet shoes with the plugs in the soles, so now that summer's about over -and going barefoot is going out of style for a few months - you can still find a fashionable foot covering to conduct your own Philly-to-Earth experiment!