It’s a butane-powered fuel-cell… yet to be launched… allegedly due to be available this year.
The trouble with hydrocarbons is that they’re simply far better storers of energy than any other batteries. The thing above takes butane (the stuff that goes into cigarette lighters) cartridges that (also allegedly) will cost a couple of dollars each, and are good to charge a phone about 14 times.
As the Dvice blogger says though – the hell with proprietary cartridges – they’re just trying to create an artificial scarcity (I mean that is pretty much the main thing that “proprietary” is for)… so if this does come out, we need to hack it pronto-quick to use off-the-shelf fuel. The hell with patents; the hell with artificial scarcity. Businesses dependent on monopolies need to go away.
I think these things (for a while at least) are the future though… sans micro-nukes, the easiest to imagine ideal solution is some sort of solar->storage device. If I had to guess, I’d say that this will be achieved using gen-eng algae (that grows like the clappers) that has been genetically tampered with so it produces some sort of hydrocarbon (or just H2) that can be used in a fuel cell. Hydrocarbons (of the liquid variety) are easier to handle than pure hydrogen though… so I’d be guessing they’ll be the way things go.
The reason this is important (well one of the reasons) is that it will radically improve what robots are capable of… especially the flying ones.
If you google “fuel cell” and look at the pictures though, there are dozens of “existing” products, with varying degrees of ephemerality. I’m guessing the major problem with the fuel cell above (and the probable need for cartridges) is that it needs ludicrously pure butane. Or something. Maybe I’ll be wrong – but 1/2 the things I’ve talked about on this blog have never actually happened. If you can’t buy it on Ebay, it probably doesn’t exist.
A name that turns up again and again (showing promise etc) though is Angstrom… who used to (apparently) sell fuel-cells on their web-site, but who appear now to have been bought by Bic (who make cigarette lighters) so who knows what will come of that… hard to say. Seems like a good partnership, but the amount of money Angstrom sold for doesn’t really reflect the scale of what is possible I don’t think.
There’s also a Swedish company (who’s designs I like)…
…where you can (apparently) buy them… which is a rarity with new-tech it seems – so many of these things appear to have websites that go on about “technology” and “investors” and “patents” without getting to the actual point of where you can buy the fucking things… which as far as I’m concerned reeks of Ponzi. If your customers/audience are “investors” then you’re not a business. At least this thing is a business.
The trouble with it though is that it appears to give only 2 charges per cartridge… so it costs €200 for the device, then €1 per phone charge after that. Ok if you’re in The Outback I guess… but I think what we’re really looking for is Replacing The Grid. Replacing wire.
So if I was looking for a tectonic drift here, it would be the de-wirification of electricity… The Internet Of Things is kindof about going off-grid in every respect, apart from information… because information is a different sort of grid – a decentralised web. It’s quite weird… it’s like artifacts that were (because of mycelia-like wires) kindof a single organism (with very very limited brains)… are evolving into distinct organisms, but with a single super-brain… which is a machine/human symbiote.