We've all been there. The dreaded beep, and your phone goes dead. There are no outlets in sight. Panic ensues as you actually try to remember someone's phone number...
These days, mobile phones are much more than just a way to have a conversation with someone that's far away. Phones are also cameras, camcorders, personal assistants, calendars, computers, bookstores, and GPS devices.
But all this extra functionality comes with a price: the need for constant charging. If you're tired of being a slave to the power cord, here are some innovative ways that you can stay juiced without an outlet.
Harvard's Aviva Presser Aiden recently won a $100,000 grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a Microbial Fuel Cell-based charger that could be cheaply assembled out of components that are readily available to the average African villager: trash and dirt.
Certain naturally occurring soil microbes produce free electrons during the course of their ordinary metabolic processes. A Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) uses a conductive surface to harvest these electrons and use them as a power source.
"We plan to develop an MFC-based cell phone charger," said Aiden. "Our goal is to make a charger that would cost [about] a dollar and could completely charge a phone in 24 hours. Furthermore, unlike solar panels, MFCs do not require any sophisticated materials: they can be easily assembled in only a few minutes. As cultural knowledge of MFC technology spreads, Africans will become capable of assembling their own chargers almost entirely from scratch, and at minimal cost that will be recouped with the very first recharge."
Unless you're like me, and believe that the mobile phone was invented so you could let your thumbs do the talking, you probably spend a fair amount of time talking into your handset. Wouldn't it be great if every time you called someone, it charged your phone instead of running down the battery?
Researchers at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, have developed a novel method of turning sound into electricity, and the technology could soon be used to charge our mobile phones with nothing more than the power of the human voice, reports the Telegraph.
The technology uses tiny strands of zinc oxide sandwiched between two electrodes. A sound absorbing pad on top vibrates when sound waves hit it, causing the tiny zinc oxide wires to compress and release. This movement generates an electrical current that can then be used to charge a battery. A prototype of the technology was able to convert sound of around 100 decibels - the equivalent of noisy traffic - to generate 50 millivolts of electricity.
Ever look into your purse or laptop bag only to see a mess of black cords where your computer or smart phone should be? The JuiceBar Solar Charger eliminates the need to carry a mass of tangled chargers so your electronics don't lose power when away from home. The JuiceBar's internal Li-ion battery can be re-charged via USB connection or via the built-in solar power panel. This arrangement gives you maximum flexibility while traveling or computing.
4. Kinetic Energy
Solar and wind chargers are helpful, but they will need hours in the sun or a stiff breeze in order to juice up your gadgets.
The nPowerPEG allows you to bring your electronic devices into the wilderness with complete confidence because it recharges them with the kinetic energy you generate while walking, running, or biking. As you move, your PEG will continuously top-off its internal battery providing you with extra power when you need it. If you’re in an emergency situation, shaking your PEG will give you the ability to call for help even if you've been in the back country for days..
Bonus! We also think the iGoCharge is pretty cool (though much more traditional).