In our dystopian future we might all be buying power by the watt-hour from a cart in the market.
You wouldn't know it from reading the news, but there was a hurricane in Puerto Rico a couple of months ago and a lot of American citizens there still don't have electricity. Industrial designer and furniture builder Alexandre Díez Gradín was one of them. He tells TreeHugger:
In the Caribbean we know a thing or two about Hurricanes ...or that's what we thought. Hurricane María was different. We thought we were gonna be out of power only for a couple of weeks and after a month we were going to be able to shake things up and go back to normal. Not at all, María was not only a stronger hurricane but also a logistical nightmare that left in evidence new necessities and problems in times of devastation. We realized that now telecommunications are one of the main things you wanna be able to use, now we have smartphones and social media.
Here's the problem. Only days after the hurricane I found myself hustling around town (walking because there is no gasoline available) and looking not only for food and water, but also for a power receptacle were in can recharge my phone and laptop. I notice people were gathering for hours around a single working power receptacle in public places for that matter. Now, after a hurricane you wanna be able to have a working phone so you can have information, government announcements and to communicate with family and friends so you can do a plan based on the information you get from your phone.
So he designed the CarretOn PowerHub; it's based on traditional street vendors' carts and "instead of food, vegetables or ice cones, CarretOn provides renewable energy and sustainability as a product." It is a platform that can be used in public spaces; with batteries holding up to 1260Wh it can charge a lot of phones, laptops or even medical equipment.
There are two small 25 watt solar panels that can top up the batteries, which in this iteration will have to be charged at another site; Alexandre is also working on a model with more solar panels and appropriately sized batteries to work completely independently:
The mahogany top acts as a workstation, where people can gather to recharge their batteries and perhaps work while connected. It sits on a body made of Garnica oak plywood on a steel frame. If you don't want to push the cart, it is designed to fit into an SUV or an ADA compliant vehicle.
Of course, it is totally shocking that there are citizens of the United States of America living in such a dystopian world that they have to buy electricity from a cart the way they used to buy vegetables, carried from a distant source the way people used to carry water. But at least ingenious designers like Alexandre Díez Gradín are jumping in to fill the gap. The way things seem to be going in the world, we may all need this when we climb out of our shelters. More information at CarretOn.