Coming soon: foot-powered laptops
Pump up the volume
A US developer is coming to market with a device which lets users recharge batteries using a foot-operated pump.
The StepCharger, from AladdinPower, gives approximately 20 minutes of laptop power after five minutes of brisk pumping.
This is not a great deal of time but, as AladdinPower customer services rep Max Smith told us, it could come in extremely handy if you're stuck without access to an external power source or a spare battery.
The StepCharger weighs 10.5 ounces and is roughly the size of a paperback book; it can be used to charge anything from satellite phones to digital cameras and video cameras, as well as laptops. In fact it works with most electrical devices with a rechargeable battery. It provides up to six watts charge at 18 Volts DC, according to Smith (who incidentally
helped George Best run his businesses in Manchester in the 70s).
The StepCharger is not yet publicly available (contrary to what it says on the AladdinPower Web site). The US Department of Defense has bought an earlier version of the product for landmine testing and detonation (it's suitable as it can be used to generate and release a well-controlled quantity of electrical power).
Unsurprisingly, the DoD is not keen for civilians to use the StepCharger for this application, so AladdinPower is bringing a consumer version to market. This is expected to cost around $150.
The StepCharger provides approx. four times more power than AladdinPower's hand-powered battery charger, which is designed with mobile phones in mind and is already available for $60. AladdinPower is looking for distributors in Europe and Asia. ®