January 5, 2013

The Next Big Thing: Gravity Powered Lamps

Call it another product built as an ode for the simplicity of lazy Americans, but this nifty little invention is actually going to be the savior of over 1.5 billion people in developing countries.

You can imagine how bizarre the idea is on paper: A lantern that’s powered by gravity. The first question that pops into most of our minds is evident: Why? Electricity is one of the cheapest forms of energy that we can buy, so why the need to make even simpler an idea from such a cheap and abundant source of energy?

The answer is due to the poorest of developing countries on the planet. Africa, India and some parts of South America fit the description for nations that are in desperate need of this device. Power outages and unreliable electric power lines have plagued these countries for decades, even longer in some parts. Not only this, but their economic turmoil is nothing short of disastrous. Rather than spend monthly prices for rent bills, these people could spend $10 USD and never have to worry about light or money ever again.

The way it works is simple: The light is hardwired to a device that reads the motion signatures naturally imposed by gravity. In short, it’s a weighted bag attached to a trigger on the light’s motherboard. When you’re ready, you lift the bag and the machine’s natural resistant setup to the bags descent is initiated. The bag slowly drags down over the course of thirty minutes, providing clean, fresh energy for free. The invention is quite genius in that the original engineers managed to fine tune and pinpoint the exact length that the bag’s string should be and the exact weight necessary to give a thirty-minute drop.

The invention is called GravityLight, invented by Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves, two London born designers who have spent over four long years now developing it. They list a number of credentials behind the design of their product, most notably the reason for its dominance over solar-powered lanterns. This is incredibly impressive to me considering that this product is only directed towards less than a seventh of the world population.

The reason they advocate for their product over solar-powered lighting is that while the sun is an infinite supply of energy, it always sets. What this means is that the amount of light that you are provided is entirely dependent on how big of a battery pack you have, which in turn becomes very expensive for those who can’t afford it.

GravityLight, however, doesn’t rely on battery packs and instead uses gears and pulleys to rev up power for a considerably long amount of time, considering that it only requires 3 seconds to “recharge” it.

Another serious factor to consider is how efficient and healthy this device would be for people who rely primarily on kerosene lamps. While thought of as simple and safe, kerosene is harmful to the environment and to people, releasing toxins and noxious gas into the area. GravityLight’s developers claim that almost a billion people inhale the fumes from kerosene lanterns, which is comparable to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

GravityLight is safe, cheap and not to mention, amazingly clever and well thought out with the developing nation’s citizen in mind. If you would like to see this invention in action, just click the link here.

Let me know what you all think!!!

Image Credit: deciwatt / Indiegogo

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