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back to article Revealed: The Brit-built GRAVITY-powered light that costs $5

An ingenious gravity-powered light source has reached its first funding goal in four days. Co-invented by industrial designer Martin Riddiford - who crafted Psion's hardware - the cheap kit allows an LED to be run for 30 minutes from a three-second pull on a rope. Gravity does the rest. The GravityLight was devised with …

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Anonymous Coward

Nice

That's one of those ideas that is stunningly simple and makes you wonder how you didn't think of it first.

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Boffin

Re: Nice

Agreed, great implementation of a simple idea, but it's not unique. I remember having a pull-down camping light in the Seventies that worked off a similar principle - it hung from a hook on the end of a cord that was coiled around a clockwork mechanism inside the body, you pulled down against a clockwork spring, and whilst the unit wound itself back up the cord it would power an ordinary torch bulb in the bottom of the body for about three or four minutes. Very useful for those quick tasks that you didn't want to expend torch batteries on. LED tech makes it much more efficient but it seems to be the same principle.

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Holmes

Re: Nice

You didn't think of it first because you didn't need to think about it.

But yeah, cuckoo clock + LED == excellent idea.

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Re: Nice

This idea, or other like it, have been thought of many times before. It's simply that t wasn't feasible with energy slurpers liek incandescents, whereas the new high efficiency LEDs make this particular design practical.

And funding, of course.. It used to be that you needed to trawl for funding for ages to get anywhere, with all the risk of your design being corrupted or usurped by some smart-alec. Direct crowdfunding shortens those lines towards funding as well, so you can actually get from idea to deployment a hell of a lot quicker.

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Re: Nice

What video?

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Re: Nice

The video doesnt work for me, but it reads like a neat idea.

I think its a hypermodern version of the knijpkat(No idea what the english word is), a WWII era latern that you could power by repeatingly putting presure on a lever:

http://eeuwen.home.xs4all.nl/images/Knijpkat_43.jpg

I remember one of my history teachers bringing along such a device one day. I'm pretty sure most country's had similair equipment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This idea has been thought of many times before...

in fact, I believe Apple are seeking a cease and desist as it breaches a patent of theirs... :)

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Re: Nice

Weren't they doing this same thing with that famous wind-up radio, years ago?

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Thumb Up

Re: Nice

Yes, it's mostly the use of highly efficient LEDs that make this a fantastic idea. Most people who don't have electricity available burn stuff for light which is both highly inefficient and very dangerous (particulate matter + fire risk)

Also I read somewhere else that it could be made a lot more portable / practical using a wind-up spring to store energy rather than lifting a heavy bag. The gravity method necessarily requiresa heavy weight to store potential energy, while a spring can store the same energy in a smaller / lighter / more portable package.

But all in all, well done, good job!!

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Boffin

Re: Nice

I've get a light sensitive LED light plugged in in my kitchen, it is very bright when you're close to it but to be honest it really is quite dim at range. Mind you it is only 0.5W and it saves switching the light on to get a glass of water at night.

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Re: Nice

I imagine it's a simplicity / cost thing. A spring and associated winding mechanism costs more? Likewise, I imagine, a dynamo-charged battery as in any number of wind-up torches in a shop near you.

For long-term reliability, I would have thought a solar cell and battery better (ie directly stored sunlight) No moving parts to fail. But I guess poor folks can't afford the extra capital outlay even if it did come with a 25-year guarantee.

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Re: This idea has been thought of many times before...

It's called the iPull

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It is not that new, nor a particularly good idea

Wind up lights are far better. For the same price - or even less - you can get a clockwork lights that are portable and thus more useful.

I expect 99% of the commentards here have never lived for extended periods using 3rd world lighting. I have.

Rule number 1 is that you don't try to light up a whole building. If you need to go to another room then you take the light with you. That means you need a portable light. A device with bags of rocks is not at all portable.

But it is British!... whatever that means.

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Re: Nice

Not many batteries come with a 25year guarantee.

cheap NiMh cells used in garden solar light last <1year and to provide more than an hour runtime you would need a few of them

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This idea has been thought of many times before...

"This idea has been thought of many times before...in fact, I believe Apple are seeking a cease and desist as it breaches a patent of theirs."

Your half-witticism has also been thought of many times before, and some of those thinkers were dim enough to think that it was clever enough to actually post.

But it wasn't, and it still isn't.

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Re: Nice

But the gravity version is more portable than the spring version. You don't have to carry the weight around, you fill up the bag with soil, gravel, shrapnel or whatever else is around when you use it. The two are both useful in different circumstances.

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Re: Nice

"You don't have to carry the weight around...".

Allan, I think you did not read Charles' post to the end. You want the light to be portable within your dwelling - either to light up another room, or to provide more concentrated light in a particular area (to study, for instance). You are not going to empty the bag and refill it every time you move it about.

Here in South Africa (and elsewhere on the continent) numerous people die or get horribly burned through candles or kerosene lamps falling over (for whatever reason) on a daily basis. Added to that numerous shacks get destroyed, increasing the misery.

This light has the potential to save numerous lives and reduce the number of shack fires and should therefore be applauded and supported. As far as I am concerned just one life saved makes this a worthwhile project.

Some recent examples:

http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/eastern-cape/two-children-die-in-shack-fire-1.1417937

http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/child-dies-in-cape-town-shack-fires-1.1412512

http://westcapenews.com/?p=3291

http://www.abahlali.org/taxonomy/term/841

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Candle-causes-massive-Cape-fire-20120715

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Thumb Up

nicely combines three ideas

Pendulum based clocks use pull up weights for power source

http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/clocks-watches/clock2.htm

for clockwork dynamo

http://h2g2.com/approved_entry/A810154

LEDs - think bicycle lights - were incandescent, required D cells, lasted 8 hours, now use two AAA and last all winter

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This idea has been thought of many times before...

The device is Egg-Shaped, Apple recently patented The Egg and all of its possible implementations.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This idea has been thought of many times before...

Your half-witticism has also been thought of many times before, ... yet Apple was the first to patent them!

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Re: Nice

The gears of a "knijpkat" - literal translation: "squeezecat" - make a sound not unlike the purring of a cat (Felis Catus).

On top of my "knijpkat" is imprinted: "MADE IN HOLLAND - IMPORTE DE HOLLANDE - TYPE 7424-03 - 2.5 VOLT - 0.1 A" with the Philips logo, the one with double-cross on either side of the channel, in the middle.

Modern versions with 3 LEDs, a rechargable battery and a crank are available (Made in China). Their plastic gears make a softer sound than the 1940's "knijpkat" made of steel and pertinax.

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Go

Re: Nice

Re: What video?

If you use flashblock, you actually have to disable it and reload the page - there doesn't appear to be the typical "start flash instance" icon

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Re: Nice

Not the same,

This is far more efficient. practical, reliable and robust.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice

So simple that somebody did think of it first! Watch this space, next week I am going to 'invent' riding a horse to save money on fuel.

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Anonymous Coward

More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living....

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You got it! We shouldn't let those damn foreigners have non-polluting lighting. Next thing you know they'll be moving in next door with their newfangled gravity lights.

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So many downvotes? I didn't know el Reg had that many hard-Greens in its readership... either that or people don't recognise satire. Have a thumbs-up button-press thing from me.

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More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living....

Those western bastards, giving them the ability to fucking see. You're right, we should stop all these evil culture incursions, such as medicine and food. All we're doing is corrupting them!

Incidentally, you're a ringpiece.

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Having been out to some of these cultures I would love to live a different life in a mud hut without all the western technologies. Many of the people in these cultures look at the way we live with pity.

If you live in a mud hut or similar as the people in the video did you don't need a gravity light to attract mosquito's harboring malaria or such like. You simply go to bed and get up when the sun comes up.

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Re: More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living....

I know, right? Next thing you know, we'll be building them schools and teaching them to read and do maths. Can't have *that* can we now? Might give them ideas and such!

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Re: More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living....

Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- there is mention of different lights being used as markers of status... the officer-classes were allowed (clean) paraffin wax candles, the lower-class Europeans in the camp had to use tallow candles that were unpleasant to work by.

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Headmaster

"I didn't know el Reg had that many hard-Greens in its readership... "

If they were hard-Green that would be 20+ upvotes .

Satire and sarcasm are very tricky ideas to convey in text without sufficient context.

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Facepalm

Enjoy dying due to lack of dentistry. Or food.

> Having been out to some of these cultures I would love to live a different life in a mud hut without all the western technologies. Many of the people in these cultures look at the way we live with pity.

Bizarre that I get all these funding calls to pump money in the direction of people obviously dying on their arse, the way mother nature intended.

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By the way, I wasn't the original AC poster... but fire away guys...

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@ Mr ChriZ: bye!

"Having been out to some of these cultures I would love to live a different life in a mud hut"

Well, what's stopping you? Your current bank balance will pay for a one-way ticket to a suitable developing country.

Oh! You don't actually want to live a hardscrabble subsistence farming lifestyle with no modern medicine or technology?

Yeah, I thought so.

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@ Mr Chriz 12:17

You're right there's nothing like no access to antibiotics to go with the lack of proper sewage treatment, in a hot tropical country to make you feel pity for us westerners.

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Facepalm

"More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living"

After everything else we've given them -

Weapons, disease, torture, brutal dictatorships, apartheid, colonisation, enslavement, segregation - you're complaining about giving them *this*?

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WTF?

Re: "More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living"

You think "they" didn't have such things before white man came along? Really?

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Attracting mosquitoes

Good point about attracting mosquitoes. However, if you use a red light you won't attract them as insects can't see red. Shame this light isn't red though.

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Anonymous Coward

Mud huts

Actually, many of those people use fires in their huts to see at night... which negatively impacts their health, means less wood for other purposes (like cooking), and has all sorts of other interesting side effects.

I would imagine there are many people (ones who are in mud huts because they are poor, not because they are defending tradition) who would welcome this, and for whom the cultural impact is positive, not negative.

Regardless, I think that decision is best left to them... not us.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living"

Yes, but *apart* from weapons, disease, torture, brutal dictatorships, apartheid, colonisation, enslavement, and segregation - what have the Britons ever done for us?

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"If you live in a mud hut or similar as the people in the video did you don't need a gravity light to attract mosquito's harboring malaria or such like. You simply go to bed and get up when the sun comes up."

Sounds pretty defeatist to me, why would you want to be a slave to the environment like that?

I have never understood why traditionalists try and preserve something not worth preserving.

If modern tech can improve lives (as this lighting system can) then it should absolutely be used, I mean, who the fuck would prefer to live in a smoky, carcinogen filled hut when a clean source that fufills the same purpose exists?. Yes, i know they cook with the fire as well as use it for light, but there is better tech for that as well (solar oven).

Incorporate a bug zapper and the mosquito problem is reduced as well.

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Re: "More western technologies to corrupt their ways of living"

Thanks Brian, I see what you did there. LOL (not Cameron style).

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Trollface

@AC 11:18 If you posted as you, you could have used the troll icon...

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Unhappy

Er, I don't think they live that way because they want to!

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Re: @ Mr ChriZ: bye!

Actually a family and friends.

To start a new life you must give up an old one.

Everything else I couldn't give too hoots about!

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Re: Attracting mosquitoes

If only somebody would invent a red LED.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Attracting mosquitoes

But mosquitos are not attracted by light.

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Anonymous Coward

Compared to a bulb, or even a human body, LEDs output very little heat. They won't attract any more mosquitoes than the user will.

Also, 12 hours of sleep is largely pointless however "simple" it might be.

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