Kickstarter: Using personal power to charge your smartphone

Credit: Source: Siva Cycle

These days most of us carry some kind of cellphone around all day, but power continues to be a concern. If you commute by car, the power issue is easily solved by a car charger. But what if you commute by bike?

Enter the Siva Cycle Atom Kickstarter project. The Atom is a contraption that harnesses the energy you generate while cycling to charge your phone, (or any USB-chargeable device), while you ride. There's also a battery pack you can charge and take with you when you're off-bike.

When I was a kid you could get a generator for your bicycle's light that drew power from the bike wheel. These generators had a rubber wheel that actually pressed against the side of the bike's tire. They worked pretty well except for the fact that there was no battery, so when you stopped moving your light went out.

Anyway the Atom strikes me as an up-to-date version of the same kind of device and I'm surprised no one has come up with the idea before now. (Or have they? If you know of something similar please leave a comment.) It attaches to your bike by removing the rear wheel, slipping the Atom over the axle, and re-attaching the wheel. They sure make it sound easy (though if your bike has disc brakes there may be complications).

When your device is fully charged the Atom automatically cuts over to charging the battery, and the power is regulated so you don't fry your smartphone when tearing down a mountain road.

Remember that Kickstarter Is Not a Store but a $95 pledge gets you an Atom as a thank you gift sometime around next November. Assuming everything stays on schedule.

But maybe you don't have a bike. Maybe you walk to work. What then? Well there's a Kickstarter for you too. The Infinity Cell Kinectic Charger. This one only works (for now) for the iPhone 4/4s/5/5s. Using the Infinity Cell, you can charge your iPhone just by shaking it.

Sound too good to be true? For now it is, at least a little bit. You have to shake the thing for 30 minutes to get a 20% charge (three hours for a full charge). Maybe use it in conjunction with your Shake Weights or something.

Kidding aside, if you get stranded somewhere and really need to make a call, shaking this thing for 30 minutes might seem like a small price to pay to get help. But the better news is that the company is working on optimizing the process and eventually the idea is your phone would charge just from the bouncing around it does in your pocket or bag as you walk, and they say they're close to achieving that goal.

If the Infinity Cell sounds like something you need to have, a $125 pledge come with the gift of a unit from the first production run, though quantities are limited (for now at least).

Of the two devices, the Atom seems more immediately practical but if the Infinity Cell folks can hit their goal of charging just by walking around, that could have a huge impact. I hope they can do it, and I hope they can get the cost way down from their Kickstarter pledge amounts.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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