Sunday, 23 December 2012
I admire the concept of kickstarter funding, but until now, I have not seen anything that I really wanted.
The funding concept is simple, some genius has an idea, but needs money to take it further, so they set up a web site explaining the invention and make possible customers an offer; in exchange for one of the, as yet non existent items, you send some money. If all goes well enough cash is sent to get the project off the ground, and eventually you are the proud owner of the relevant gismo.
What the various kickstarted sites do is to provide a single site where these projects can be displayed. I suspect that they also require some standards and financial discipline, but I haven't checked that.
There are obviously risks, the thing might not be made, or the early prototypes are rubbish etc. etc. As I understand it, when it all goes wrong you are supposed to get your money back. I love the idea, but one way or another I am usually not quite filled with enough enthusiasm to actually send cash.
Today was different. I came across some guys who want to make a light that runs on gravity. They think they can make these things so that they sell for a few dollars and can potentially replace kerosene lamps, which are all over the third world and are smelly and dangerous. They cause indoor air pollution, contributing to asthma and such, and they cause fires.
The lamp works by having a pulley that drives a small generator. The force comes from hanging a sack of rocks from the pulley and letting it slowly fall to the ground. So actually, it doesn't run on gravity, it runs on the muscles that have lifted up the sack of rocks. According to the bumph the device comes in a sturdy sack, which once unpacked can be used to hold 9 Kilos of rock, mud, or whatever you have available.
It seems such an obvious idea that I am amazed that no one has thought of it. I suspect that it was waiting for the LED to be invented so that there was a light source available that does not need much power. I did find some similar ideas in student projects from a few years ago, but they did not get made, I presume because older lightbulbs used too much power so the sack of rocks would have been too heavy to lift
If these guys do manage to make lots of them it should only be a matter of time before bright young kids all over the world have figured out how to power all sorts of other things from them. I can picture Raspberry Pis being connected as we speak.
Will it charge a phone I wonder? The possibilities are endless.
If you are interested, the link to the project is
You can watch a video of the thing working.