Portable, expandable battery system offers solar charging and manual crank option

Modulo expandable battery system

The mobile device revolution, which has enabled a whole new world of information access and social sharing, is limited by two major factors, one of which, the speed and availability of our network connection, we have virtually no control over. But the other factor, the available battery capacity of our devices, we can find solutions for, from cutting back our use to carrying another battery with us.

At the most basic, we can turn off every unneeded service on our devices, or put them in offline (Airplane) mode, or we can carry a wall charger (or solar charger) with us and top off the batteries when needed. Those solutions are half-measures at best, as disconnecting from the network means that our devices essentially won't work, and staying tethered to a wall charger requires us to stay near an outlet or the solar charger until our device is charged.

One other option for extending the useful life of our devices across longer periods is carrying an external backup battery with us, and using that to power our smartphone or tablet when the internal battery is low. A new design for a portable battery pack is about to be launched, and this one offers a couple of advantages over other external battery packs, including the ability to be stacked for higher output and to be recharged with solar power or a hand crank.

The Modulo battery packs a full smartphone charge (2100 mAh) into a small size and weight, with the card-sized device weighing just under 2 1/2 oz, which can be attached to the back of a smartphone with a "Smart Attach" feature and sticky skin. Charging the Modulo takes just 2.5 hours, and it has a pass through, or "Smart Charge", feature so that the battery can be charged at the same time that it charges another device.

If all you have to charge is single smartphone, a single Modulo, which puts out 1.2 A from its USB port, could be all you need to get through a day's worth of device usage. But the modular feature of the Modulo, which allows multiple units (up to 5) to be stacked on top of each other to create a 10500 mAh battery that can deliver 2.4 A from its USB ports, means that tablet users can easily recharge their devices as well.

As one of the rewards for hitting the stretch goals of Modulo's Kickstarter campaign, the team at IDAPT is also producing two other charging options for the device, a solar charger ($25) and a hand crank charger ($18). The solar charger, which has five small solar panels that can be expanded for charging and retracted for storage and transport, looks to be a great use of space, and is said to be able to not just charge a Modulo, but to also be able to directly charge devices from its USB port. The manual charger, which would allow users to generate a charge for the Modulo by turning a hand crank, doesn't look very practical for everyday use, but it might be a decent option for emergency preparedness kits or bugout bags.

The Kickstarter campaign for the Modulo has been very successful so far ($118,000 raised on a $30,000 goal), and still has over a week to run. If you want to get in on this portable power option, backers at the $25 level will receive one Modulo and a cable and a skin (which is said to be 33% below the expected retail price of the units), and if you pony up $60, you can get three of the units, saving you even more money off of the retail price.

Portable, expandable battery system offers solar charging and manual crank option
Here's yet another solution to the low battery blues, but with a modular twist and a renewable energy option.

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