Kinetic Chargers from The Land of Make Believe

Otherwise known as the blogosphere – that parallel universe where someone only has to draw a picture of something for it to become real, re-published across the net as a world-saving fait accompli.


Ooh. Beads. Shiney.

I don’t know why I find this so annoying. Really I should like it – it’s people being creative etc, throwing wonderful ideas into the soup. It’s an explosion of creativity and democratised publishing, it generally starts with designers (and design blogs) who are pretty inspirational…

… but somewhere in the process I can’t help but feel it turns into snake oil. The purpose of it goes from creativity to clamorous, panting attention seeking – tricking people into thinking they can actually buy this stuff somewhere. They always take pains to skirt around the fact that what they’re presenting is actually just a drawing of something.

The greeny blogs are the worst – they’ve created this whole diorama of world-saving consumerism, and none of it’s fucking real. To pick a random example (and I won’t provide a link because I’m sure they’re nice people, and I have no particular desire to piss on anyone’s chips). There are currently 10 articles on the front page – and they look wonderful. They are:

1) a drawing of a solar powered market – that doesn’t actually exist
2) a drawing of a bamboo prefab house – that doesn’t actually exist
3) a drawing of a university data centre – that doesn’t actually exist
4) some people aiming to build a solar powered bike – doesn’t actually exist
5) researchers aiming to power cars with cottonseed oil – doesn’t actually exist
6) an energy efficient computer power supply. It exists!
7) a drawing of a green office block – that doesn’t actually exist
8 ) a lovely looking design for a green vehicle – that doesn’t actually exist
9) a test flight by a 747 using 50/50 biofuel / jet fuel. It exists!
10) an energy efficient house in Australia, who’s roof has been extended, and looks a bit like an eyelid, though I personally would have called it an “eve” not dissimilar to what any other house in the entire country has. This exists too, but like, so what?

Maybe they’re not supposed to exist – maybe it’s purely about design and I’m completely wrong, and I’m a cunt and I should shut the fuck up… but the pattern here is spread across the web. It’s kindof like a liberals version of Fox News ending their headlines with a question mark. There simply isn’t enough news to report so they make stuff up – or in this case, report upon the “aspirational” flagship projects of designers and architects, treating them as though they’ve actually made it all the way to actually, actual, real, reality.

C’mon. It’s living in a bubble. We need shit that’s real. Drawing pictures of wishful thinking doesn’t cut it.

So on that note… here are a load of kinetic chargers, some of which are real, some of which aren’t… and lets face it, it’s not always easy to tell the difference… and really, I’m not complaining about these because they look quite cool as well, and I am quite conflicted about the whole thing.

Maybe it acts as a sort of – market research – designs that create a buzz are merged into tomorrow’s DNA. Who knows. Something about it doesn’t feel right though.

Still. Whatever:


Laundry balls. You put them in your clothes drier and the constant motion charges the battery inside. They look cool. These would be worth having no matter what they did. The Linking site is about “form over function” as well, so no complaints there etc – other than that they publish things that other sites then assume to be reality.


Bullet shaped charger thing – you wear a bunch of them bandolera style. This one is from the site I was bitching about before, and to be fair it has apparently made it to prototype stage.


This one from Gizmag is actually real – a bit of a stretch at nine inches though.


This one’s pretty neat – for dancing apparently. I wonder if they could make one for sitting around the house in your underpants. I mean theoretically it would be more efficient to just dangle a couple of electrodes into a fermented brew of beer (which is already fermented) and pizza, and cut out the middleman. Still, I like it.


A designer security tag that replenishes your energy at the same time as you drain someone else’s with your never ending talking. This one is cool as well, and does (or doesn’t) come in a variety of fashion colours.

Here’s another one, a little less glam… any more real?


from… let me see, let me see… ah ” M2E will announce the development of an external charger later this month” – not quite real at the time of writing (last year) then… The originating site seems to have no mention of this gadget – but maybe that’s not their thing. They seem quite preoccupied with military stuff.

Eric Von Hippel having done a fair amount of research has found that around 80% of innovation is user driven – ie: people playing with actual physical things. He also says that about 3/4 of non-user-innovated products that make it to production, fail.

I hate to think of the number of products that never actually get made at all, but instead are just vapor-ware in the attention economy.