Date: 2 December 2016 10:34
A lot of mobile devices don't offer the option of swapping in a fresh battery for uninterrupted uptime. Although external USB power banks are useful, they're also limited by capacity. A new hybrid generator, currently funding on Kickstarter, is looking to offer on-demand power from the palm of just one hand. HandEnergy is designed to produce electricity at wall socket speeds through gentle wrist rotations.
When it comes to harvesting free energy, solar technology likely springs to mind first. But despite portable solar panel products geared towards consumers, solar still suffers some practical limitations – there's not much you can do indoors and/or when it's cloudy outside.
Generating electricity from muscle movement is nothing new, as we've seen a variety of devices over the years. Products like the SOSCharger utilize the very common hand crank method, while the MiPwr Dynamo iPhone case and K-Tor Power Box rely on squeezing and pedaling, respectively. HandEnergy sets itself apart by allowing people to use a device in one hand while charging with the other, no matter where they may be.
Shaped like a medium-sized apple, HandEnergy packs a magnetic rotor, a stator, a 1,000-mAh capacity battery, and a USB port. A twist and release of the starter ring sends an impulse to the rotor to get it spinning and users then twirl the device in small circles to maintain the rotor's movement. Mechanical power transferring from the rotor to the stator generates an electric current, which can then be stored in the battery or sent to devices connected via USB.
According to its creators, users can expect to generate up to 5 V / 1 A of maximum output through HandEnergy's USB port, while the internal battery is limited to a charge rate of 5 V / 0.8 A, which (currently) has no option to be plugged in for recharging like a typical power bank. HandEnergy will also contain a Bluetooth module, allowing users to monitor charging stats in real-time through the mobile app.
Although such on-demand power through HandEnergy calls for human effort, some may find it more appealing than pulling a string on the YoGen Charger or jamming with the Spark Shaker. The motion required to operate HandEnergy is similar to that of using a gyroscopic wrist/forearm exerciser, so you could be charging a smartphone while also clocking in a strengthening workout.
The HandEnergy Kickstarter campaign has raised 60 percent of its EU$50,000 (approx. US$53,200) goal in eight days, with another 22 days to go. Pledges for one HandEnergy (in select colors) start at EU$79 (US$84).
The team has developed and field-tested prototypes, and is poised for production. If all goes according to plan, backers can expect shipments of HandEnergy to start as early as May, 2017.