Revisiting Potenco's Innovative Pull-Cord Generator

In an ideal world, most of our energy needs would be met by cheap, simple, yet elegant devices like Potenco's revolutionary pull-cord generator (PCG). We've raved about this power generator before and - during our brief romp through this year's WIRED Nextfest - had the chance to meet Colin Bulthaup, the startup's ambitious CEO, and test the device out for ourselves.

With very little effort, we were quickly able to generate enough energy to power half an hour of talk time on a cell phone and 2 hours' worth of play time on an iPod Shuffle (see below the fold for a side-by-side comparison). According to Bulthaup, a single minute of pulling generated enough energy to also power 1 hour of LED flashlight use or to take 35 pictures with a conventional Nikon SLR camera. Its output typically ranges between 12W and 15W, with a maximum of 20W.

Now that it has successfully been incorporated into the One Laptop Per Child Foundation's (OLPC) XO "$100 laptop," Bulthaup told us that the company's next objective was bringing it over to Bangladesh and, from there, other developing countries in Asia. And though it is mainly intended as a cheap power source for individuals living in off-grid situations, Bulthaup eventually hopes to see it used in a broad array of portable electronic devices in developed countries, such as the U.S.

See also: ::Potenco: Powering Possibilities