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Changers: A social, solar-powered charger for iPhone, Android phones (Video)

Posting in Energy

A startup called Changers.com makes energy production social. The $149 kit's solar panel hooks up to a battery system that can charge your iPhone in four hours.

Berlin-based startup Changers.com is today launching its social energy marketplace. Its solar-powered gadget charging system will allow people to produce their own energy when they power up their iPhones, iPods, or Android phones.

I spoke with Changers' co-founder Hans Raffauf at Web 2.0, where he showed me how the Changers Starter Kit works:

The system can generate up to four Watts per hour. In other words, when plugged into the solar panel, the battery can be charged in four hours.

A chip inside the battery pack sends the energy data to the Changers.com site, so the user can see how much energy was produced and how much their friends produced. The stats can be shared on Twitter. The person will acquire virtual currency as they produce more energy. For the moment, users can use the currency to buy sustainable goods on Holstee (100 credits equals $10).

"We need to find a way so everyone contributes and is aware of their own energy production," Raffauf said, hoping that his system will help crowd source energy production to combat global warming. "Only if they get the idea that you can change behavior and we change behavior at large, this device enables everyone to produce their own energy and make it visible."

While a portable system like this could be useful to people in developing countries or people living off-the-grid, Changers is targeting the urban demographic in America first. The mobile, social charging system costs $149.

Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure