It's ironic that I should be writing this on a 13 hour stopover at an airport doling out foreign notes for endless coffees in Starbucks to justify my use of their power socket and WiFi. What I really need right now is a comfortable fold-out rocking chair that converts my languorous rocking movement into electrical energy to power my laptop. If only such a thing existed! Well, it might not be too far away. The Empower chair won second prize out of 18 shortlisted designs showcased at the Greener Gadgets 2010 Conference...
The design, by Ryan Klinger of USA, comprises a flat-pack chair of tubes and a sling seat that folds out to a bench-style glider seat. The rocking mechanism is linked to a gearbox, DC generator, voltage controller and lithium battery. A red LED light shows that kinetic energy is stored, a blue LED light shows that power is being generated. The energy is converted by means of a DC/AC inverter and accessed by a USB or standard power outlet so it can be hooked up to a laptop, mobile, MP3 player or other gadget.
The Empower chair is said to have been brought about by ethnographic research that recommends the "overlooked and ever reciprocating motion of a glider style chair for the storage and use of usable power for consumer electronics."
Not only is it designed to be practical to carry and erect, but it also offers a "new form of relaxation and is highly suitable for a variety of settings where space cannot be compromised but comfort is a necessity" - airports being top of my particular list.
Yves Behar, founder of the integrated design agency fuse project, kicked off the Greener Gadgets competition with a challenge to designers to "put the sexy back into green" and with the Empower chair winning second place evidently eco-friendly rocking chairs are in vogue.
The conference, produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, concluded last Thursday in New York City, and aims to highlight the latest green designs and innovations in consumer technology.