Motorola Builds Bike Phone Charger For Third World; No More Excuses Not To Buy A Phone

from the buy-buy-buy dept

It's been interesting to see some of the efforts to bring computing and electronics to less developed countries. Clearly, better infrastructure can help some of the people in these countries, as seen by things like "phone ladies" or rural farmers who are able to do much more thanks to mobile phones. At the same time, it's important to realize that technology alone isn't what many of these countries need -- and claiming that just adding technology will solve some of the larger economic issues is going to end up badly. Still, for many companies looking at the "the bottom of the pyramid" there's opportunity there, if you can just help get over some of the market hurdles. Motorola has apparently realized this. Recognizing the importance of the third world in growing their business, they've decided to build their very own bicycle phone chargers (found via Engadget). As you ride the bicycle, it charges your phone. The idea is that this way, the mobile phone users don't have to worry as much about electricity -- though, they'll have to do plenty of bicycle riding to keep the phone charged. Of course, this could work well in some villages where villagers have built a business out of riding around on a bicycle with a mobile phone for others to use. Next up, they'll have to design some stationary bikes to keep power on at the cell towers.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    James Quintana Pearce, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 9:48am

    Quite impressive

    This was shown during Zander's keynote at CES. Not really in my scope, but I think it's one of the better ideas Motorola has had. There's a lot of countries where bicycles are the primary form of transport.

     

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  2.  
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    Tyshaun, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:00am

    Maybe this would be better in the US...

    With the "obesity epidemic" going on, combined with our obsession for electronic devices requiring recharging, I say they should offer it as a "get fit and talk" package. That way we can help deal with the energy crisis and make a dent in the obesity problem at the same time.

     

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  3.  
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    Petréa Mitchell, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:03am

    I need one of these

    How soon do we have these available to recharge laptops or PDAs?

    (signed, a bike rider)

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:06am

    Next up, they'll have to design some stationary bikes to keep power on at the cell towers.


    Humans can pedal 100-300 watts. Lance Armstong 600 watts for 30 mins.

    Given such a wattage, why would a cell tower have that kind of power?

     

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  5.  
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    BananaFish, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:23am

    "Next up, they'll have to design some stationary bikes to keep power on at the cell towers."

    ... unlike in America where we all plug our cell towers into our outlets at home.

    On the other hand, perhaps cell towers won't be owned by individuals who have limited electrical access.

     

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  6.  
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    gdwntx, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    i NEED TO SET UP A BIKE AND GENERATOR SO MY KIDS WILL HAVE TO PEDDLE TO PLAY THE XBOX 360 THEN I BET I WOULD GET THEM OUTSIDE MORE

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous of Course, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:34am

    What the world needs now...

    I'm underwhelmed.

    Cell phones and computers are not much use
    when you're suffering from dysentery because
    there's no clean drinking water.


    Let's prioritize, shall we?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:47am

    Re: What the world needs now...

    While true, companies like Motorola can't do much about water,but they can help with communication.

     

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  9.  
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    Bumbling old fool, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:59am

    Re: What the world needs now...

    And while we're at it, lets COMPLETELY ignore those that have drinking water, cause lets face it... They have water. They dont need anything else at all.

     

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  10.  
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    A. Nony Mouse, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:59am

    Talk you @ss off!

    Agreeing with Tyshaun :)

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    Better Internet = Better Drinking Water

    There are huge resources online with information on building solar and wave-powered water purification systems cheaply. The problem is the people that need them aren't connected enough to the Internet to learn about them.

    Information = power, and power can be used to change your environment. The more connected people are, the better informed. So cell phones and computers are useful to people who are having a problem getting good drinking water.

     

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  12.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 11:44am

    make your own

    Don't you think "product" is a bit of an exageration? In TFA they get carried away and call it a "system" (roflmfao).

    Here's how to build one:

    Any standard bicycle dynamo (cost approx $ $3.00)
    1N5401 3 amp diode (cost $0.05)
    LM317 3 volt regulator (cost $0.15)
    10,000uF 5v capacitor (cost $0.10)

    Total cost $3.30

    So for $0.30 above the price of a dynamo you can do this.

     

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  13.  
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    BananaFish, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re:

    ---"i NEED TO SET UP A BIKE AND GENERATOR SO MY KIDS WILL HAVE TO PEDDLE TO PLAY THE XBOX 360 THEN I BET I WOULD GET THEM OUTSIDE MORE"

    No, it sounds like that would just tie them to a stationary bike.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Maybe this would be better in the US...

    Wow. Thank you Mr. Tyshaun for that tremendously insightful correction to Mike's article.

    I don't know what Techdirt would do without the likes of people posting comments like yours – oops, nevermind, it would be a more intelligent place and we wouldn't want that.

     

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  15.  
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    Faz, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 12:42pm

    Tie a cow to a bike pedal and make it go round and round, hence charging the phones, PERFECT

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 12:55pm

    Re: What the world needs now...

    If you give a decent quality of living to people who are poor, theyll still be poor. This indicates their relative worthlessness to the economy. Theyll always be poor.

    If you give to those who can use capital to multiply their output, the economy will grow and the poor will find new opportunities and make themselves not poor.

    I realize that trickle down policies dont make you feel like a manly generous superhero but they work and yours dont.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: What the world needs now...

    "If you give a decent quality of living to people who are poor, theyll still be poor."

    Sorry mate. That must qualify as the most ignorant comment ever posted on the internet, and that's saying something.

    Presumably you equate poverty with lack of disposable money? I suggest you do some basic research on the definition of poverty, wealth and money according to widely held understandings of economics.

    Besides "trickle-down economics" has been soundly refuted by evidence and the analysis of minds much smarter than you or I. Please don't drag the debate down by wheeling out that corpse from the last century.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: What the world needs now...

    I carefully regarded them as the exact opposite. If you lift them out of poverty, then all youve done is transfer wealth to the hands of those that can do the least for their economy with it as proven by their present economic status. Obviously their disposable income will increase as some lesser portion of income is spent on resisting poverty. But unless this results in a general improvement of the economic condition, withdrawal of outside assistance will leave them as poort as before.

    I guess according to my own system of reasoning, though, external wealth boosts to outside the point of povery could have disproportionate impact on someone's productivity and could be the most efficient use of money up to a point. You are correct, I do not have sufficient background in the study of poverty to know how precisely that works

    Your disdain for trickle down economics condescends utterly some portion of humanity with which you might otherwise enjoy enlightening discourse. When you speak that way, you chill the conversation by pre-emptively grouping an uncertain assortment of ideas and comments under a moniker which can be trashed in one fell swoop.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: What the world needs now...

    I would also like to add that I have always found the idea of putting computers in these places instead of clean water to be ridiculous, and I was trying out the opposite notion here to how it felt. The response was non-intellectual derision. Under the circumstances, that scans as validation that there might be some threatening nuggets of interestingness in there.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What the world needs now...

    "If you lift them out of poverty, then all youve done is transfer wealth to the hands of those that can do the least for their economy with it"

    Here is where I believe you are confused. If you transfer *money* into the hands of poor people then I agree, you have done them a disservice. Note; money can be seen as many forms of aid like food aid, such that it affords no long term benefit. However this is not the definition of *wealth*. Wealth is precisely that enabling infrastucture of utilities, education, culture, effective government, security, modern agriculture.... One cannot give wealth. Wealth is earned by those who benefit from it. It is perfectly possible to "create" vast amounts of money while destroying wealth.


    as proven by their present economic status.

    I profoundly disagree. This is an argument for another day, but imho the economic situation of the poorest nations is a result primarily of war and political interference, not anything intrinsic to the capabilities of those people or their resources.


    "But unless this results in a general improvement of the economic condition, withdrawal of outside assistance will leave them as poort as before.

    Absolutely! You do get it. So why do you confuse wealth with money?


    "I do not have sufficient background in the study of poverty to know how precisely that works"

    Me neither. But I do know friends who have worked for organisations such as UNESCO, WHO and Oxfam and I study the things they say and argue with them a lot. World poverty is deeply political and not amenable to purely economic analysis. But it must be said, if it can be said in an apolitical way, that quite literally global economics is not zero sum game, but it is played as a zero sum game by our leaders and market analysts. Have a look at the work of economists based on Nash (the crazy one from "A beautiful mind").

    Modern economic theories have moved forward leaps from "trickle down" theories. I'm sorry if my rude rebuttal stymies the debate. It's just that I've been through it so many times and have grown weary of the old argumants.

    w/ respex

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:52pm

    What the world needs now is fewer people like you

    As usual, the only people who open their mouths to comment are those least suited to making productive statements or leading a discussion that goes somewhere or has any relevance.

    This article has nothing to do with water or economics (a subject that none of you should ever open your mouths to discuss again without A LOT of study)

    Since when is one advance that helps individuals in the third world mutually exclusive to all the others.
    It's not an either or situation, any advance is good and most help those in need access other forms of assistance.
    For instance-- anyone with a cell that can connect to the Internet automatically can access instructions on nearly free means of purifying their drinking water, alternate farming methods, . and a whole host of other things that just might help them. Heaven help us, if we give people the tools they just may be able to help themselves without us looking over their shoulders all the time and telling them how things have to be done.
    Wouldn't want that, though, right-- people who can help themselves don't have to put up with your condescending arrogance or complete lack of understanding as to what their real wants and needs are.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What the world needs now...

    I agree with your definition of wealth. When you lift them out of poverty, I assume they have more disposable income and are then able to build into their own economic infrastructure, even if it is at the level of a village.

    as proven by their present economic status

    What I meant was that the value to the economy right now of certain individuals in the economy is equivalent to their income, which is incredibly low. Whether this is a result of endemic poverty or governmental malfeasance does not matter. My proposal has merely been to insert resources where it can do the most stirring up, to move those people into economic scenarios where they can jump into the cycle and start contributing meaningfully.

    I sought here only to refer to the vague principal of trickle down to suggest that the best location to insert resources might not necessarily be at the grassroots.

    And alas, I have no clue what it is you were inferring by your reference to experts. Let me assure you that if at any point you think I suggested that global economics was zero sum, you are sorely mistaken. I did suggest that whatever the sum, it is finite, and so our resources ought to be preserved for the most effective uses.

    Observing repeatedly that the political climate is a big factor is not helpful. Any person with wit enough to wipe their chin knows that. I was only discussing the economic factors. People in corrupt, backwards countries could do more good for themselves than we ever could by straightening out their governments. But taking one factor at a time we can figure how to best work on one facet of the problem.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:24pm

    Re: What the world needs now is fewer people like

    As a simple thought experiment, consider two things you want dearly. Then suppose you can only have one or the other. As you choose which one to take, you will be prompted to analyze each option in far greater detail than you could if you just continued to salivate over the prospects of having it both ways.

    Then consider that we do this automatically all the time as part of more sophisticated hard-won mental processes that you, too can aspire to.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    sceptic, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:40pm

    Way to go off topic

    Not sure why the discussion ended up being about how to properly help the poor of other countries. Motorola introduced a product that makes it easier to have a phone in rural areas of 3rd world countries. It's not a subsidy or a cash grant, it's a product that goes together with another product that people are already buying, their economic status is irrelevant. Unlike OLPC, it actually caters to an existing and noticeable need.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Way to go off topic

    Instead of wasting time on frivolities like cell phone accessories, Motorola should have come up with a way to make clean water cheaper. Thats what bumbling old fool and anonymous of course implied. The train derailed.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Way to go off topic

    Yep, we did two extra Earth orbits there.

    So this product ("accesory" I urge) is clearly a Good Thing(tm).

    It's a voltage regulator. Motorola have been manufacturing them for decades and they are essential in every electronic device there is.

    Next step towards sanity and progress is to integrate these into the phones (they are small semiconductors) and fit standardised multi-voltage connectors (as mandated by the Chinese) so that anybody can charge any phone or PDA by plugging it into an unreliable power source like a solar cell, dynamo etc.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 4:06pm

    product confusion

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    sceptic, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 4:17pm

    Re: product confusion

    Obviously it's easy to make a mistake. Even the products look alike.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Tyshaun, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Maybe this would be better in the US...

    Wow. Thank you Mr. Tyshaun for that tremendously insightful correction to Mike's article. I don't know what Techdirt would do without the likes of people posting comments like yours – oops, nevermind, it would be a more intelligent place and we wouldn't want that.

    You know, I guess the fact that I was being quasi-facetious must have escaped your keen intellect. In fact, your only contribution to the discussion seems to be to insult others, which I have always been told is indicitive of a mediocre intellect at best.

    At any rate, I'm sorry you don't like my comment, although in retrospect it does seem like it could have some novel applications to encourage more exercise.

    I will leave you with a simple thought and that is "chill out" because your not good enough to be that self-important!

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    EnergyJ, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 4:37pm

    Wow, this thread got a little sidetracked.

    Look, the whole point of this is provide power for charging phone to people who don't have ready access to electric grid. This is a LOT of people and many of them want and need to communicate wirelessly. This may not be the only approach and maybe not "high tech," but it is a smart answer to an important problem.

    It could be designed to power other devices (bike light) and could also be used in the home to power or recharge other devices or for if power grid is down - happens frequently in some parts of the world.

    Great if Motorola can help the world and sell phones (and make a profit) at the same time!
    Isn't that why companies are in business?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Jaf, Jan 29th, 2007 @ 6:19am

    Pedal & Power

    Not new at all, see www.ikonproducts.com for the original bike/phone charger.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Ida Zhang, Apr 13th, 2007 @ 6:57pm

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Kim, Mar 1st, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Motorola Builds Bike Phone Charger For Third World

    Our firm sells a bicycle cellphone charger. It can charge anything that usually plugs into a car cigarette lighter socket www.econvergence.net/cyclech.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    solar company in bangalore, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 3:01am

    solar company in bangalore

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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