A new invention being hyped on Kickstarter will allow outdoor enthusiasts to use nothing more than a naturally flowing stream or river to fuel up their phone.
From ancient watermills to modern hydroelectric dams, running water has long been used to provide energy. But the Blue Freedom device, labeled by the company on Kickstarter as “the world’s smallest hydropower plant,” provides consumers a way to collect and store renewable energy themselves using a lightweight device. The idea has been implemented by other companies, such as HydroBee, although Blue Freedom does seem to be the more compact of the two chargers.
To begin charging the Blue Freedom device, users anchor the circular base unit on land and cast a small turbine into the water. The flowing water rapidly rotates the turbine, providing the energy to store up the battery. According to the company, 1 hour in flowing water will provide 10 hours of reserve power for a smartphone.
As people grow increasingly reliant on their phones and mobile devices, a flood of products have come out to allow users to extend the lifespan of their gadgets, even when unplugged from the grid. Recent inventions have included solar chargers as well as a device that can recharge a battery using lighter fuel. The Blue Freedom offers a lot of potential to outdoorsmen with access to flowing water, from fisherman and kayakers to campers who bed down by a flowing creek. However, some have questioned the device’s versatility over more time-tested solar devices, considering that sunlight is more readily available and outdoor enthusiasts can collect and store it while staying mobile. However, according to the company, the Blue Freedom is one of the quickest ways of gathering electricity using natural resources.
Any doubts on its efficiency don’t seem to be dampening enthusiasm over the water-powered charger. With a month left to go in its initial fundraising drive, the Blue Freedom has already surpassed its goal of $100,000. The company has sold out of its cheapest supply of the devices to backers, although those who contribute are still eligible for discounted rates and early deliveries of the Blue Freedom when it’s released in October 2015.
Those who forgo the Kickstarter campaign and opt to wait on reviews before purchasing will pay the full retail price of $319. As with many crowd-sourcing options, the promise of new technology at a low rate is enticing, but there is no independent confirmation yet if all of the claims by Blue Freedom will hold water.