There are a number of inventive ways clever people are devising to bring energy and electricity to places where it's limited, and this is yet another one. It's refreshing to see great minds harnessing technology in this way. Does anyone know of any others that bear mentioning or coverage?
Thats really great with all these technologies we can see that how creative and intelligent people we have . And the most interesting thing that i found was the business that the people have started with this technology . Secondly i want to know if this technology is used to charge mobile phones only or it can charge any other chargable device as well.
Thanks Elizebeth and yes if this technology expands in future for other devices it will definitely make a difference and will make things very easy and accessable to people who are deprived of electricity and living in small villages and towns .
I couldn't agree with you more Debera. I think I will follow up on how this project is doing to see if what its founders hoped to achieve is panning out. If I find out anything I will post it here. Thanks again for your comments.
@Debera: Yes technology can do wonders to anyone who is willing to take the extra mile and try it out. Even things get a bit tough you should not stop it. Technology is something which has been made to make things easier so obviously it will make things easier for everyone once you get used to it.
Elizabeth, mobile device charging via text SMS is a good option. But for a full battery charge how many SMS will required, moreover in most of the countries SMS are also chargeable. Whats the mode of contact between these type of charging point and devices & whether it economical.
I'll have to get back to you guys on this, TJ. I didn't get a chance to talk to the founder of the project for the story. He did contact me a week or so later, so I can follow up and get a more detailed description. Stay tuned.
I will, TJ. I have to say, I didn't expect such a lively discussion about this. And people have brought up a lot of points I didn't even think about myself, as they always do (because our readers are a class act!). I definitely am curious to fill in the blanks myself now.
I was going to ask the same questions, which arose since no place in the article did it mention how the power gets to the phone from the charging box. One very big question is how did they avoid the problem of so many different connectors to the phones? I have a stack of 15 old phones using 15 different charging connectors. Of course they are from the era when phone makers wanted to force folks to purchase their vastly overpriced charging cables. That is one area that would have been far better if the government had mandated one single connector type and polarity for each of the three basic charging voltages, and not allowed any exceptions. Now USB charging is sort of like that except for those connectors with the fifth pin and that secret resistor.
What is so very complex about a charging system for a phone? A small generator/ PM alternator and a simple control circuit would do the job and if the gears and bearings were plastic the retail price could be under $10 USD. Of course they would probably have a 1000% markup if they were to be sold elsewhere in the world. Gred does seem to work that way.
What's surprising to me is that the potential customers can afford to purchase a cell phone and service but apparently can't purchase a small solar panel to charge the phone themselves. I just checked eBay and a typical panel is about $5. The solar idea is great, I just don't understand why they need a guy to pedal it.
I think that cell phones are probably a little easier to get in some of these countries than solar panels, although I am not sure, tekochip. I imagine they also are on "pay as you go" services, not service plans. But as I said, I don't know for sure. I just would think it might be hard for someone to purchase a solar panel. I live in southwest Portugal and even here I would find it hard to get one; I'd have to go online and have it delivered. And the mail in Portugal is quite bad and sometimes I don't get packages or have trouble receiving deliveries, so I can't imagine what it might be like in a truly impoverished place.
I wanted to make a bike-generator for 3rd world use. It was based on a generator I made for another project. However, the harsh environment of those places, the bumpy roads, often destroys such devices. Perhaps that is why they didn't go that route?
Good point, Cabe, that could be one reason the bike idea didn't fly (or ride, so to speak). But I would have to ask the project founders about that. It's true the conditions there could be difficult, as they are difficult even for cars. I have a friend working in Africa at the moment and one of the first things he noted was the treacherous state of the roads.
I spoke to a few non-profits in Africa about distribution. They essentially said, there are too many bikes there.
They also said that people just steal electricity off the suspended power-lines. They will even use barbed wire as their connection. They said I have to tackle that problem before they would use my generator. In other words, I have to teach the users what to do.
It has been a back burner project of mine ever since the talk.
That's interesting, Cabe. It sounds like a worthwhile project if you could educate people there and show them how to get power efficiently and more legally. It's a shame it's such a desperate situation that they need to steal power off the lines with barbed wire! It can't be safe, either. I think they need the device the German student created to harvest energy from devices and power lines (that spurred such heated debate among our readers!): http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=260486
When you need to take the stolen power to one's house a mile away... with no other choice, they will use the barbed wire. I would say using devices like the "bathook" for accessing strung lines is more safe, but where will they find a spool of 6 gauge wire (powerline gauge, USA).
The problem is infrastructure, corruption in the government, desperation. There is no hope, for now.
That's a shame, Cabe, but perhaps one day this idea will be workable because it sounds like a really good one. Although corruption historically is a problem in underdeveloped nations and doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, unfortunately.
Yeah, it seems like a really difficult problem to solve with a lot of complicated issues around it, Cabe. A friend of mine just returned from a four-month stint working in Botswana and from what he says, so many things need changing and fixing, and it's very difficult to do things that we take for granted every day.
On a similar subject - I feel a lot of non-profits are secretly for profit. The people that work them often take a paycheck, or it is their only job. But their salary is part of the NP's overhead. Trips are too. And trips are expensive, as we all know.
I heard on NPR about a charity doing work over in South Africa. It seems to me that they spent a lot of time "traveling around, seeing the country to get a feel for the people's plights." During the trip, he had to eat and sleep places, all on the charity's dime. I think he just wanted to travel. To me, it sounded like a fraud. Especially since nothing came of it.
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Cabe, that story about that charity in South Africa sounds alarming but not surprising. I imagine there are a few "charities" or "nonprofits" that take advantage in a similar way, which is a shame but unfortunately sometimes people aren't always doing the right thing. As for my friend, he was there for work--a friend of his set him up with a job overseeing construction of safari camps. He only stayed three months because the work was grueling and it was quite difficult, and he is in his mid 50s and didn't want to put himself through that kind of labor.
Good point. In the photo, the orange structure attached to the rear of the bike appears to be a stand that can be rotated under the rear tire to lift it off the ground. In fact, such a stand is typically used for transforming a bike into a stationary exercise bike (not likely!) or a generator.
The opportunity already exists for an entrepeneur to but a generator (be it hand, solar, pedal) and charge people to use it. The only innovation I see here is to give the cell phone companies a cut by requiring SMS payment. One way of attracting investment for your idea I suppose, but surely better to keep the cash in the local economy? Also, cell phone reception is needed before charging can begin.
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