Images via Ecofriend
There are three key design points we encourage all gadget designers to hit: 1) Design stuff that is cradle-to-cradle and doesn't need energy from the grid; 2) Design something that will actually function as you say it will; 3) Design stuff that would have a fighting chance on the consumer market. While the Aeolus cell phone concept does indeed try to use wind and solar power to maintain a charge, it unfortunately fails on the other two design points. And without those, this "sustainable" concept design is anything but. Ecofriend points us to the Aeolus concept phone by by industrial designer Cyrene Quiamco. The phone is designed to capture both wind and solar energy to maintain a charge anytime, anywhere. However, there are a few hiccups.
Problem 1 - When we have slick phones that are just a thin little tablet that can slide into our pocket, why would we go back to this bulky cell phone that doesn't even have a nice display screen. It looks like a circa 2001 phone with a turbine awkwardly built in. Even if this is designed for developing countries where the power source is more important than the phone's software features, it still seems more desirable to have a solar charger on a newer phones with more capabilities. There isn't a point to designing something for the consumer market if no one will really want to use it. Instead, reusing old phones and charging them with external renewable energy chargers is a much greener plan.
Problem 2 - The renewable energy features on the phone aren't really enough to get a charge. First of all, there isn't a way to stand the phone up so that the turbine can capture the wind power. The user would be stuck holding it up, or - even worse because it encourages consumption - getting a gorillapod-like accessory to attach it to the car window or bike handle bars to charge as you travel. Also, if you follow solar cell phone posts on TreeHugger, you'll know how we feel about embedded solar cells on phones -- no one wants to leave their phone out in the sunshine for a couple hours to charge up. It's more harm than good for an electronic device.
We love designers trying to get creative with off-grid gadgets, but unfortunately, this one misses the mark. However, there have been designers who show off how savvy they are about problems with electronics; for example, we love the Nokia green phone concept. We're hoping more designers get familiar with the issues behind gadgets so that their designs can actually be used in the real world without a negative impact on the planet.
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