iPhones get sun, leg power
When batteries aren't enough
Two new alternative power sources for digital gadgets such as the iPhone and iPod touch have just surfaced - one powered by the sun and one powered by you (and your bicycle).
Novothink of Oakland, Califoria has announced its new Solar Surge line of cases, one for the iPhone 3G and 3GS and one for the iPod touch. The company claims that its Solar Surge cases are the first solar chargers to be Apple-certified.
Both have soft-touch, non-slip cases - the iPhone version is available in eight solid and metallic colors, and the iPod version in four. Both have solar panels that output 5.5V at 100mAh in full sunlight, pumping juice into 1500mAh 3.7V lithium-polymer batteries that provide 120 per cent of the the Apple handhelds' built-in batteries.
More useful in Dubai than London
According to Novothink, two hours of direct sunlight will provide about 30 minutes of talk time on a 3G network or 60 minutes of talk time on a 2G network. But don't expect to use a Surge on your first-generation iPhone. It's not supported.
The Solar Surge for the iPod touch will be available later this month and the iPhone version in November; both will set you back $69.95 (£42.65).
Solar cases are harder to come by, but Freeplay's single-panel TuffCharge Solar should be available this quarter - but there's no word yet whether it will be Apple-certified, as is Novothink's Solar Surge line.
Phone manufacturers are also getting into the solar game. Samsung, for example, should release its Solar Crest (aka Solar Guru) soon, and their Blue Earth later this year - both have a built-in solar chargers. LG is working on one, as well.
But since the sun is not always shining, folding-bicycle manufacturer Dahon of Los Angeles, California is introducing a charger that is powered by a more-reliable energy source: your legs.
From Bike Hugger comes word of Dahon's BioLogic FreeCharge, a charger that siphons power from any industry standard dyno hub, pumps it into its battery, then makes it available over USB for your iPhone, iPod, GPS, or similar USB-chargeable device.
Useful if you need to call ahead to order a pizza after a long ride
An iPhone will take about three hours to receive a full charge, but the FreeCharge can also be used as a supplemental power source, thus allowing your iPhone or standalone GPS to keep you on course longer than if it were running on battery power alone.
The BioLogic FreeCharge is scheduled to appear next March for $99 (£60). Dahon will also include it as standard equipment on two of its bikes, the Ios XL and the Speed TR. ®
Speaking of iPod cases, word comes today from Engadget that cases from Hama showed up at the IFA show in Germany for the fifth-generation iPod nano and third-generation iPod touch, both expected to be announced at an Apple event next Wednesday - and that the cases have openings on their backs to accommodate the oft-rumored addition of cameras.
"Try to keep up - iPhone batteries haven't exploded. "Exploding" iPhones have all been dropped by their clumsy, undoubtedly-Windows-using owners. ... If you want to puke up more anti-Apple vitriol, at least try to make it accurate."
Oh dear, it seems I've disturbed a tried-and-true Apple fanboi. Imagine that.
Perhaps it wasn't evident to you, but when I said "or do I have to wait until more batteries explode", I was not referring specifically to Apple; I was referring to batteries in general, specifically when left in direct sunlight. Perhaps you would have understood that if you had actually read the rest of my comment instead of perceiving "anti-Apple vitriol" in everything you read.
@Allan Rutland -- You're not the only one; I had the same thought. Unfortunately, such logic is rarely experienced by designers and Apple fans.
@ John Robson
Your comments make me sad for the future of human kind.
"BUT leccy isn't available when out and about on a long ride. On my commute this morning my GPS cycle computer shutdown from low battery :("
WTF! You need a GPS for a ride which, by the term commute, seems to imply that it is a regular journey?
"I must have accidentally left it on after my weekend jaunt (yes it should have an auto shutoff if it doesn't move for 10 minutes, but that's not my fault)"
So whose fault is it then, quick call injury lawyers 4 U, someone is to blame for your inability to either turn off your GPS when you finish with it or remember how to get to work
I can only hope that you were able charge your GPS at work yesterday or are you still cycling round in circles wailing about how unfair it all is!
Convenience - not environment
There seems to be a bit of talk about the environmental aspect of the kit. I don't think that's the actual argument. Looks to me like this is being sold on convenience more than anything else. If you want to take your iPhone/iPod camping (and you earn enough money) then it's a good idea.
The biggest issue I see is the price. A 5v regulator and USB socket can be got for well under a fiver in the UK (£5). Add in a few quid for buffer components and a cute little box to put it in and you can build half a dozen for your £60.......
@ Mr. Omega
I could charge any device multiple times for that much leccy.
BUT leccy isn't available when out and about on a long ride. On my commute this morning my GPS cycle computer shutdown from low battery :(
I must have accidentally left it on after my weekend jaunt (yes it should have an auto shutoff if it doesn't move for 10 minutes, but that's not my fault)
I actually like this idea, although one that would run off my existing battery packs already on the bike would be good (8*AA pack runs my lights, must be able to get 5v regulated out of that...)
Try to keep up - iPhone batteries haven't exploded. "Exploding" iPhones have all been dropped by their clumsy, undoubtedly-Windows-using owners.
If you want to puke up more anti-Apple vitriol, at least try to make it accurate.