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back to article iPhones get sun, leg power

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 …

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Go

Awesome, please contribute....

...any sustainable energy technologies to our forthcoming blog/community site at www.lifemachine.com.

Once complete later in 2009 (currently, just a list of services and products), LifeMachine.com will only be listing devices and services that are capable of being 100% self sustaining. For example, an iPhone charger must be capable of charging the device from zero to full without being connected to the grid at all. Likewise, hybrid cars, while technically interesting, are really just a marketing gimmick, after all, some non hybrid vehicles producing better mileage. However, cars running entirely on electricity (such as Tesla) will be included, because if they are re-charged using services such as that planned by BetterPlace.com, then (like the iPhone charger) the grid is removed from the equation. And that's going to be fantastic for the environment - as long as the batteries can be disposed of safely!

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WTF?

people with iphones go outside?

i would've thought that they'd be too embarrassed.

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Silver badge

units

"output 5.5V at 100mAh"

Milliamp hours? Is it a battery or a charger?

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FAIL

Design flaw?

That black case is going to get your iPhone might hot when placed under direct sunlight. Just right to kill li-ion batteries which hate high temperatures.

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wrong bike tech

I've used the iPhone a lot for mapping on long rides (50+ miles) and have often wanted some way to charge it as I ride.Not keen on the dynamo idea tho, that's extra friction. Surely it could be done with magnets?

PS, if you're into riding have a look at the Trails app :-)

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A waste of energy

£42 of rare earth materials and energy to make a small phone run on the sun thereafter. What a waste of resources.

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FAIL

Sell the phone..

... with the solar charger, not as an 'add-on'!

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Pint

Re: wrong bike tech

"I've used the iPhone a lot for mapping on long rides (50+ miles) and have often wanted some way to charge it as I ride.Not keen on the dynamo idea tho, that's extra friction. Surely it could be done with magnets?"

How about a little bit of research? The article talks about dynohubs not traditional dynamos. One of the differences between the two is that "The Dynohub has _very_ low drag".

Of course, the bike solution will probably work... unlike 'yet another' solar power source that only really works if you live on the sunny side of venus... and even then only if you leave stuff in the sun for 12 hours...

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Coat

@magnetik

"Surely it could be done with magnets?"

The Law of Conservation of Energy tells me that even if you use magnets, you would still have to pedal harder.

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FAIL

I don't get it...

I just don't get products like this. It's neither environmentally nor economically sound. How many times can you charge your iPhone on $69 worth of electricity? I don't know but I'm guessing many many more times than the life expectancy of the phone. It is therefore just a waste of the energy and materials needed to make it.

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qus

Wow that's a bargain!

Buy CharBike, that does exactly the same thing for 65 Polish Zloty (that's 13 GBP). Char Bike exists for some years now, probably it's much more mature :-)

http://charbike.webpark.pl/

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@adrian

I would agree

but ....

the reason it becomes difficult is that the dynamo on a bicycle is highly inefficient way of getting power.

Magnets would be great but wouldnt be able to generate enough power to power the lights on your bike. But a smaller charge for a phone it would be ideal.

the difference is between a maglev train and a normall one Which needs more forward thrust to get moving

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nice.

If you can get someone to pay $69 for a voltage regulator and a couple of other components worth about $1then well done!

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Unhappy

Indeed

Exactly how large is the carbon footprint for producing the solar charger anyway? Considering its design, construction and transportation to the end user, how many of these need to be sold/used in order to see any positive net gain in total carbon reduction?

One wonders.

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magnets?

> Not keen on the dynamo idea tho, that's extra friction. Surely it could be done with magnets?

What do you think is inside a (low friction) dynohub? (Hint - it's done with magnets.)

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Can I laugh now...

... or do I have to wait until more batteries explode? A solar-charger case for your Apple-branded tat is a bold move considering that the manual for virtually every piece of electronic kit explicit states "Keep out of direct sunlight". And we all know how much lithium-ion batteries love high and low temperatures; that's when they're at their best, of course.

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Happy

@I don't get it...

You're not supposed to get it.

The target audience certainly doesn't think things through, but that is why they are Apple customers in the first place. :)

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Gimmick

Am I the only one who see's the solar charger and thinks, hang on, if its in your hands at the time, than its not going to see the sun, and the rest of the time it's going to be in the persons pocket...and while the sun may shine out of Jobs' rear pocket, can't see many other users having charging options in their jeans. So the use is to plonk it on a table in the sun for many hours, making it overly easy for the user to forget it, get it stolen or just wait for it to explode. It's all a fashion addon to make people feel greener, and utterly no practical use.

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Stop

@Vision Aforethought

"...And that's going to be fantastic for the environment"

Given that plants thrive on carbon dioxide, and burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, can I assume that burning fossil fuels will cause a surge in plant growth, which will in turn regulate the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide?

I mean, plenty of studies have shown that plants grow faster in a CO2-rich environment, capturing the CO2 as they do so. Is it too hard to believe that the planet is effectively regulating itself? Is it not possible that any perceived increases or decreases in atmospheric CO2 or global temperature measured in recent years (and I mean incredibly recent on the grand scale of planetary history) are simply natural fluctuations that have been occurring since the birth of the planet?

By all means use "renewable energy" to save money. But to say you're "saving the planet" is more than a little presumptious.

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Gates Horns

@Chris C

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.

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@ 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...)

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Stop

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.......

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WTF?

@ 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!

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@Bilgepipe

"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.

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