New Green Inventions: 15 Cutting-Edge Items

Electronic footprint

Photo: Peter Shanks/Flickr [CC by 2.0]

Can electronics be green? Looking at the latest in green inventions, you might be surprised to know that you can have a smaller ecological footprint without sacrificing all your electronic toys. Here's our list of 15 of the newest, eco-friendly innovations to help you do your part. (Text: Bryan Nelson)

ASUS U-series bamboo laptop

ASUS.

This isn't the first bamboo notebook we've seen from ASUS, but it might be their most eco-friendly. These sleek looking computers were highlighted at this year's CeBIT ‚ the world's largest computer expo. The bamboo frame makes the computer more disposable and helps to reduce e-waste (even the trackpad is made from bamboo). Powered by Intel's Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, the U-series laptops run Windows 7, and have USB 3.0 connectivity, too.

YoGen Charger

Photo: By Marilyn Volan/Shutterstock

One of the latest trends in powering green gadgets is to do it off the grid, with some form of kinetic or human-induced power. Nothing exemplifies this fad better than the YoGen Charger. Unlike solar-powered devices which can take half a day to charge your gadgets, the YoGen portable dynamo will charge them in about the same time as a wall outlet. And you only need a few minutes of tugging on a string to get it going. Charging your phone or mp3 player has never been so easy, convenient and green.

Bedol water-powered clock

Bedol What's Next.

All you have to do to make this ingenious clock run is fill its tank with tap water and, depending on the particles that are in your water system, possibly add a small amount of table salt. Aside from saving you money on batteries, the Bedol water clock will set you back only $16.

AUG Living Goods Program

Greener Gadgets.

This mobile phone app stole the show at this year's Greener Gadgets Conference in New York. AUG Living Goods is incredibly useful for the eco-conscious foodie: Take it with you to the grocery store, scan any product's barcode, and the Living Goods Program will automatically give you information on its producer, how far the food has traveled, whether it's in season, historical pricing, detailed consumer ratings and even your own purchasing history.

Empower rocking chair

Greener Gadgets.

Another highlight of the Greener Gadgets Conference, these ergonomically designed rocking chairs by Empower allow you to sit back, relax and power your gadgets all at the same time. Made for public spaces like airports or waiting rooms, they collect kinetic energy from your movement. That energy is then released via a USB connection, so you can plug in any of your compatible devices to charge them while you rock back and forth.

Corky the little brown mouse

Greener Gadgets.

This wireless mouse, affectionately named Corky due to its cork design, requires no batteries to stay powered up. Instead, it generates all the energy it needs simply through the movement of your hand. There is a piezoelectric element on both the right and left click buttons, and kinetic energy is generated when the scroll wheel is turned or the mouse is moved from side to side.

Andrea plant-based air purifier

LaboGroup.

Plants are Mother Nature's filters for dirty air, so why not use them to power your air purifer? Conceived by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, Andrea pulls air in through a quiet fan, which then propels it through the leaves and root system of the plant, then out through the soil and back into the room. Air doesn't get much fresher than that. And the best part is that you can pick whatever plant you want to fit in the pod.

Tunebug Shake

Tunebug.com.

Another one featured at this year's CeBIT, the Tunebug Shake is perfect for bicyclists, skateboarders, snowboarders and other alternative transportation users as a substitute for headphones. Once you've strapped on your helmet, connect it to a music player using Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack socket and it will basically turn your helmet into a speaker, allowing you to stay in touch with your environment.

nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator)

Tremont Electric, LLC.

This charger harvests kinetic energy to generate electricity, and is perfect for outdoors enthusiasts who don't typically have access to electrical outlets and who want to eliminate the need for batteries. All you have to do to make the nPower PEG work is place the device vertically in a backpack or purse and it will generate power as you walk, run, kayak, or engage in any type of movement.

Oregon Scientific advanced wireless appliance manager

Oregon Scientific.

This clever device from Oregon Scientific allows you to break down your home's electricity use on an outlet-by-outlet basis to pinpoint energy hogs. It can track energy use for up to eight outlets at once from a single display, allowing you to lower your energy bills efficiently and effectively.

Chevy Volt

jurvetson/Flickr.

Perhaps the most extravagant electronic toy of them all, the much anticipated Chevy Volt is expected to become the first commercially viable, mass-marketed electric vehicle this year. The car will be able to run for 40 miles on a single charge, but it is also equipped with a flex fuel engine for longer distances.

Pixel Qi E-paper displays

Pixel Qi.

Judging by the jump in sales for e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader last year, Pixel Qi displays enter the scene with a lot of momentum. These new e-paper displays can show video and color, but use about one-half to one-quarter of the power consumed by traditional LCD screens.

Biostar Green Power Utility

vr-zone.com.

Featured at this year's CeBIT, Biostar's Green Power Utility will help make your computer as energy efficient as ever while maximizing performance and stability, all within a single user interface.

Smart Solar Window Alarm

Smart Solar.

Security systems can suck up a lot of energy, but this convenient alarm by Smart Solar can power itself. Equipped with solar panels, energy is stored in a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. It produces an alarm noise at 6.8 khz which should easily wake you up if triggered.

Samsung Blue Earth

Samsung.

This breakthrough solar-powered mobile phone from Samsung might be taking green electronics to a whole new level. Made from recycled plastics from water bottles, it even comes with a built-in pedometer to tell you how much CO2 emissions you've saved by walking instead of driving. Practically every element of this phone was designed with going green in mind.