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Wearable Tech

Ampy: Motion-powered backup battery stores kinetic energy

Forget plugging in. Ampy stores up battery power by converting your movements into energy so you can charge your gadgets with the power of motion.

Ampy on a bike rider
Ampy wants to go along for the ride. Ampy

Smartphones have some pretty sweet capabilities, but a super-long battery life is elusive. Some people have turned to portable backup batteries to keep their phones juiced up, but you still have to deal with finding a wall socket or USB port to recharge the devices. Ampy, a Kickstarter project that has already roared to $141,000 in funding, wants to harness your body's energy rather than pull power from an electric plug.

Ampy doesn't require great feats of athleticism to charge. You just have to carry it on your body and go about your day. The more vigorous the exercise, however, the more power you'll pump into the Ampy. For example, a normal urban day of walking (about 10,000 steps) can give you an extra three hours of phone life, while joggers and bikers may get an extra six hours. Granted, those numbers are a little vague. It will be interesting to see how Ampy performs in the real world once it ships to buyers.

The device can be worn on your arm, kept in your pocket, tossed in your purse, attached to your leg or clipped onto your belt or another article of clothing. You can even clip it onto your dog's collar if you want your pooch to do all the work. There is also a wall outlet option for recharging in case you're having a lazy day. The battery has a 1,000 mAh capacity that can be used to charge smartwatches, fitness trackers and other small devices.

Ampy is going for an $85 (about £53, AU$98) pledge. If you want the Ampy along with an accessory kit consisting of a protective sleeve, clip and armband, it will run you $105 (about £66, AU$121). The gadget has already topped its $100,000 goal and has 26 days left on Kickstarter.

The Ampy creators are currently testing working prototypes. They see the Kickstarter as a first step leading to grander accomplishments. Hopes are that the Ampy tech will be integrated into other wearable devices down the line so that you never have to worry about charging your gear with a plug or USB cable.

While kinetic chargers aren't a new concept, Ampy steps up the game by offering a solution that is small and portable. It weighs a hair under five ounces. The team says its proprietary inductors that turn kinetic energy into usable power are the key to this innovation. If it ends up delivering on its promises, then Ampy could be a nifty alternative to the usual backup battery solutions. And it doesn't hurt to have a little extra encouragement to get out and move.