Everyone at TWE loves a gadget. In the past we have profiled some of the world’s more unique gadgets, some that are fun and some that are useful. This month we look at some supposedly ‘eco-friendly’ gadgets and put forward four of our favourites which could change the outlook for future gadgets completely…
‘Eco-friendly’; now there’s a phrase that is banded around on a regular basis these days. But what does it really mean? How often are things actually eco-friendly?Because the phrase has become so widely popular, the meaning has become somewhat lost and confused but, at its core, eco-friendly means earth friendly or non-harmful to the environment. Of course, there are many stipulations and ideas surrounding what truly makes an eco-friendly product and if you can claim that your product is eco-friendly, you are likely to win a number of fans who have a modern, green mind-set.At IndustrySA, we love a gadget; anything that makes life a little easier, more fun and more interesting is, in our book, a good thing. Any sort of gadget that incorporates eco-friendly principles, well that’s already a winner, or is it?
There have been a number of gadgets that have hit the market in the past few years, all looking to brand themselves as eco-friendly so we thought we should take a look at a selection of them and see if they are indeed fun, interesting and purposeful.
USBCell Rechargeable Batteries
How often are you left searching for spare batteries? It is a common problem but perhaps not as common as it was five years ago. Nevertheless, batteries are needed in many everyday items; cameras, remote controls, lights, even the common desktop mouse, and we often use batteries that contain toxic chemicals. Rechargeable batteries have, until recently, been a source of frustration because of their inability to hold a lengthy charge but now we have the USBCell from Moxia Energy, a London based company that aims to provide power solutions that are economic and environmentally friendly.
You simply flip the top and plug into any USB socket, no need for any charger or plug socket. It’s quick and easy and there are new, more powerful formats already on the horizon. It’s eco-friendly as it means no more throwing away batteries containing harsh chemicals and potentially only using two or three USBCells for the foreseeable future.
As robots take over more and more of our daily lives, is there a limit to how much you feel comfortable with them doing? If so, then the RoboMower is probably not for you. This ingenious product is a fully automated grass cutting device. You simply lay a cable around the edges of your lawn and leave the RoboMower to do its thing. It recognises the wires and remains in its dedicated area. It even has a sensor to detect trees, rocks and other obstructions so it continues to cut, despite what may be in its way. It is a speedy machine and uses a Triple-Chamber-Mulching system and 5800-rpm blade to scythe through the grass in no time. Interestingly, it is marketed as eco-friendly as it uses no gas, oil, or produce any harmful emissions and it takes the bore out of a previously laborious process.
Bedol Water Clock
Powering electronics with nothing but water? Now this sounds like a great idea for the future and so far we haven’t seen too much progress in this area but the Bedol Water Clock is the first step in what could potentially form a dramatic change in consumer electronic power.
The Water Clock works by converting ions in the water into energy to run the clock. Bedol claims that the clock is ‘the most accurate, environmentally practical, hassle-free chronometer of its kind’. It is simple to run and easy to maintain and the company is pushing the eco-friendly aspect of the design saying: “No batteries, no chemicals, no electricity – no pollution. You don’t even need to wind it up! Just fill the tank with natural tap water and you’re set for eight to 12 weeks of accurate timekeeping before refreshing.”
Of course, at this stage this product falls into the category of ‘novelty gift’ and the challenge now is to turn the technology into something more and perhaps use it on a larger scale. Even in its current state, this is a remarkable innovation and hopefully something which has a bigger future.
Flexible Solar Panels
There has been much furore surrounding the use of solar technology. In developed nations, many solar installations have been developed but the price of energy seems to continue to rise. As well as being a ‘clean’ source of energy surely one of the aims of using renewable energy is to reduce the cost to the consumer? Hopefully flexible solar panels will provide a more unique solution to energy problems.
Many companies have produced flexible solar panels with varying voltage and different uses; just last month we looked at The Lightie™ which used a flexible panel to power LED bulbs but perhaps one of the most prominent on the market is produced by American company, Brunton.
The Brunton SolarRoll can be used to charge anything from iPods, cameras, videogames, lights and even car batteries and has an output of either 9w or 14w. It is durable, light and makes use of rollable amorphous thin-film solar cells for effective low-light performance.
This type of solar panel is quick, easy and cheap to produce and can be made with little impact on the environment. Obviously, it uses little energy, just that from sunlight making it an ideal eco-friendly gadget. The next challenge will be to get it used on a wide scale and improve its already impressive efficiency.