Thinking Tech

Best charging device ever - stores energy while you walk

Posting in Energy

Walk around. Store up energy. Power your gear. The nPower Personal Energy Generator is now shipping.

Walk around. Store up energy. Power your gear. That's the entire premise behind the nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator). And after a year and a half of fits and starts, the PEG is finally shipping.

nPower calls the PEG the "world’s first passive kinetic energy charger." Take it with you wherever you go, and the PEG will store up energy from your movements and convert it into power for your mobile devices. It doesn't work with laptops, but anything smaller – like a smartphone or a music player – is fair game. The PEG comes with a charging cable and micro USB adapter, or you can get the add-on Apple adapter tip to charge your iPhone or iPod.

I saw the PEG in action first back in January of 2011 at the Consumer Electronics Show. I was wildly impressed with it then, but after more than a year on backorder, I’d started to think the PEG would never make it to market. Now, as of May 30th, it's finally shipping. From the nPower blog:

After a year of redesign, troubleshooting, testing testing and more testing, the new nPower PEG is now available for purchase at our webstore online. Thank you to all of our supporters, customers, beta testers, shareholders, and friends for your patience. Time to start making your own clean energy.

The PEG doesn't come cheap, but for $170 you get a technology marvel in a compact 10.5-inch, 14-ounce tube. You also get a new sense of just what it costs to power your gadgets. For example, nPower says that:

  • One minute of walking provides approximately one minute of listening time on an iPod Nano
  • Eleven minutes of walking provides approximately one minute of talk time on a 2G phone call
  • Twenty six minutes of walking provides approximately one minute of talk time on a 3G phone call

If you need to charge up your PEG quickly, you can also plug it in the old-fashioned way.

nPower is smart to get its technology out in a consumer friendly form, but one of the most interesting things about it is the potential for larger scale operations. When I spoke to a company rep back in 2011, she talked about the possibility of using larger generators attached to buoys in the ocean to create a great deal more power. The size of the generator directly correlates to the amount of power produced.

Could we use passive kinetic energy in the future to power buildings? Or even small towns? I say forget the ocean buoys, connect nPower technology up to a bunch of preschoolers, and let's see what we can do.

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Mari Silbey

Contributing Editor

Mari Silbey is an independent tech writer based in Washington, D.C. With a background in cable and telecom, she's a contributor to several trade publications, and part of the GigaOM analyst network. She also writes for the long-running digital media blog Zatz Not Funny, and has written for both corporate and association clients focused on broadband networks, mobile apps, and video delivery. She's a graduate of Duke University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure