Did you find a lot of neat little gadgets underneath the Christmas tree this week? While they present exciting new ways to stay connected, the need to keep these devices charged can create special challenges for their owners and a big drain on the energy grid.
Rather than wait until the local energy company decides to switch to solar, wind, or geothermal power, a Berlin-based company has created the opportunity for everyone to become a power plant unto themselves.
Changers recently introduced a portable solar charging system for everyone that aims to reduce global warming by shifting society to the use of a currency backed by the sun. The Changers System gives electronics users (so pretty much everyone!) a way to harness the sun's energy, liberate ourselves from the grid, recharge our devices, socialize our energy production, and compete with each other to earn credits that can be spent in an online marketplace.
The Changers Starter Kit includes the Kalhuohfummi solar battery and the Maroshi solar module. The Changers Kalhuohfummi is a simple, one-button device that communicates with Changers.com. It can accurately measure how much energy it captures and stores in the built-in battery, ready to charge any smartphone or tablet. The Changers Kalhuohfummi solar battery is powered by the Changers Maroshi flexible solar module, which generates up to four Watts per hour — enough to charge the Kalhuohfummi battery in four hours. The Changers Maroshi solar panel, which is produced in Colorado, USA, can be attached to any window or sunny surface.
Basically, Changers allows people to generate their own energy, eliminate the fear of dead mobile devices, and then make the C02 savings visible to their friends in the same way they would share a new coffee shop or must-listen band.
“Each of us takes it for granted that we have limitless energy on tap, and as a result we have become completely disconnected from how our actual energy usage impacts the planet,” said Markus Schulz, co-founder and CEO of Changers. “The Changers System aims to shift our attitudes and behavior by enabling each of us to produce our own energy, measure and visualize the real effect of this simple act, and then share our contributions with others. We think that if you can unite people in the pursuit of renewable energy — even small amounts of energy — it will lead to a dramatic transformation in how we source and consume energy.”
Heads up: We were so intrigued by the Changers effort to combine the addictive nature of social media with the need to generate more renewable energy, we asked them if we could give the solar charging kit a test drive in 2012...and they agreed! So be on the lookout for a detailed review of the charging kit to be published in the new year.