Wind-up invention lets tech-users wind down

Sometimes it takes the simplest technology to make the more sophisticated friendlier. Clockwork advocate Trevor Baylis believes as much, and has even sold Motorola on the potential within the mechanics of yore.

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By  Kate Concannon Published  September 20, 2001

10 years ago, Trevor Baylis invented the clockwork radio in response to a televised documentary about AIDS in Africa. He felt that, if the developing world had access to radios that could be powered at no cost, knowledge and awareness of HIV and AIDS could be spread — so that disease might not.

His company, Freeplay Energy, has since sold over a million clockwork radios (which run for one hour after a 20 second winding), and has now developed a mobile phone charger by applying the same technology.

Let’s face it, no matter how light, how powerful and how highly sophisticated, technologically, a phone may be, what purpose can it possibly serve when the battery goes bust? Baylis’ invention means short battery life and conk-outs at the worst possible moments need be no more than a hassle of the past: crank up the charger and it will deliver 6 minutes of talk time, or two hours of stand-by.

Every phone user knows the hair-tearing annoyance of phones falling asleep just as you need them — it’s a certain wind up — and a clockwork charger to counteract laptop power-outs (yet another source of techno-rage) is also on the cards.

Motorola is keen to cash in on the appeal such a device as the clockwork charger doubtless holds, and, in collaboration with Freeplay, will produce the charger, which is due for launch at the end of this year.

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