Solar power may be making great strides in mainstream usage, but energy efficiency doesn't necessarily translate to fiscal conservation. The "Ultimate Outdoor Webcam" by DigitalXtractions, for example, runs on the sun's rays but costs $450 plus another $150 or $250 for a solar panel, according to The Raw Feed. But here's the kicker: Not only do you have to pay those exorbitant prices up front, but you also must shell out $60 a year for a "data subscription" that includes Web hosting. We think we'll keep a USB port open for the &… Read more
It's only a matter of time before phones join the alternative-energy trend in earnest, and some companies are already trying to get out front with designs before the onslaught begins. ModeLabs, for one, has released three concept designs for mobile phones that use renewable and kinetic energy, according to Electronista: The wearable "YoYo" (kinetic energy from bouncing around the neck); the "U-Turn" (energy from opening and closing the keyboard, and the "Runaway" (to be worn on the wrist and recharge itself like a self-winding watch). We have only one question: Why wait for … Read more
We're all in favor of solar energy, but it's products like this that gave rise to the phrase "too much of a good thing."
The Japan Organization for the Promotion of Renewable Energy has devised this "solar-powered fan hat," according to Tokyo-based Plastic Bamboo. It has a solar panel perched precariously on top, which powers a fan poking through a hole in the bill of the cap. (Not kidding.)
It's not that we have anything against the idea but, come on, look at this thing. Whoever is willing to wear one of these … Read more
'Tis the season for giving, all right. Just when we were whining about solar chargers being too big and bulky, Chip Chick comes along and posts an item on a solar mobile phone charger that's not only much smaller than others we've seen but could even pass as a fashion item.
True, chargers made by generic companies in China like this one aren't known for having the best track records. But given its manageable size (about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick) and its price of $18.50--including adapters for various phones and MP3 players--we … Read more
Automobiles have paved the way for hybrid and alternative energies in transportation, but other vehicles are quickly following their tracks. We've seen trains, golf carts and even wheelchairs running on non-fossil power sources in recent months alone. But one there's one category we hadn't anticipated: toys.
Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies first made headlines with its hydrogen-powered "H-racer" remote-controlled miniature car, which Gizmag says is the "best-selling fuel cell product in the world." Now, Horizon has developed what it calls the "H-cell" power source, which it claims allows miniature cars to reach … Read more
No, it's not some kind of futuristic crossbow, though we would certainly understand if you thought it was. This weird-looking contraption is the "Loopwing Wind Turbine," a wind-powered energy source designed for home use and scheduled for official introduction at Japan's Eco-Products 2006 Exhibition. Treehugger says the device's wing design operates with "low vibration" but notes that the specs are vague--"43 percent power performance at optimum wind speeds," whatever that means. Still, we're reasonably sure it has more guts than the recently discovered wind-operated lamp.
As alternative energies finally become more mainstream, wind power often remains an afterthought compared with solar and other sources. The Elica lamp, made by an Italian design firm, is taking one modest step to raise wind energy awareness among the masses.
The lamp can be turned on and off by blowing on its "helix," or propeller. Mobile Whack says an "airblow censor" can help keep the lamp from being switched on accidentally. We have only one issue with this otherwise innovative appliance: According to the Elica site, it must still be plugged into an electrical outlet--which, … Read more
Suzuki knows that alternative fuels aren't just for cars. So the Japanese company is turning its eco-friendly eye toward a new market: wheelchairs.
Gizmag says a prototype "fuel cell wheelchair" is in the works, using methanol to generate hydrogen and then electricity. It adds that, with a range of up to 25 miles, the wheelchair would help allay fears of getting stranded.
It's good to see that alternative energy research is going toward vehicles other than golf carts.
Maybe we're just superficial (OK, probably), but we've often suspected that appearances are a key reason that solar products haven't taken off with the masses. Too often they look like something you'd find listed under "contractor's special" than, say, at Bang & Olufsen. So leave it up to the marketing-obsessed electronics business to come up with some effective packaging. Case in point: Sanyo's new Eneloop device, whose solar-powered batteries can recharge products through a USB connection while looking decent enough to display in the open. Now the marketing department just needs to … Read more