At the Greener Gadgets Conference last week in New York, designers showcased their ideas for eco-friendly gadgets as part of a green-design competition. From devices that create their own energy to those that minimize the need for any electricity at all, here are some of the finalists, as chosen by a combination of public votes prior to the conference, and judges' commentary and audience participation during the actual event.
The InCharge battery station by New York design firm Pensa encourages the use of rechargeable batteries with a self-sorting design that sends power only to batteries that still need charging. If all batteries tossed into the unit are already charged, the smart plug just shuts down all power to the device.
This open-source, rechargeable device from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based GRND Lab is a prototype product, realized in partnership with Unicef, that lets health workers in the field gather fast, accurate children's health data.
The user can input a child's vital information such as name, weight, height, and middle-upper arm circumference, and get a prompt preliminary diagnosis of the child's general heath.
The gadget uses auditory and written prompts to guide the worker through the diagnosis questionnaire, as well as through both the registration process for a new patient and the check-up on a previously registered patient. It is being developed specifically for health clinics in Malawi and Uganda.
The Econav 480 from Spanish design house Crambo brings environmental awareness to the navigation device. The Econav displays information on how to save fuel, for example, and on real-time carbon dioxide emissions. It can calculate data for 6,000 car models, Crambo says.
The Niteo, a submission from Bentzen Illustrasjon Og Design in Norway, is both a lamp and a charging station for small electrical devices. Niteo converts chemical energy, available in a bio-convertible substrate, directly into electricity.
As part of its sponsorship of the Glastonbury performing-arts festival, British telecommunications giant Orange commissioned U.S. design firm Kaleidoscope to create a concept for a solar tent that would make a positive environmental impact
while giving festivalgoers a place to hang out and keep their gadgets fully charged.
The EnergyHub Dashboard aims to help homeowners reduce their energy consumption and save money. It lets consumers view real-time data, control devices in their home, and compare their usage with that of neighbors and friends.
The BioCharger180 gadget charger by Mayamax Sarl is made with plastic comprised of 40 percent natural fibers. The charger has three low-intensity light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, to indicate charging progress and a timer that fully stops the charge after three hours.
Trying to teach your kids about living green? U.S. designers Aaron Tsui, Irina Kozlovskaya, Jasen Mehta, and Sergio Silva teamed up to create Rocco, a sustainable, energy-generating toy that converts kinetic energy created through rocking into electricity.
Inductive coupling, the transfer of current flow from one wire to induce voltage through another wire, charges the handles' internal battery. The handles on Rocco--who is made from recycled plastic--glow brighter as they charge, and can be removed and used as a light source.