Crowdfunding campaigns or wide product announcements that do not make sense pops up every now and then. It seems that energy related “inventions” seems to be getting easily into the spotlight without proven merits:
Hackaday article Crowdfunding Follies: Proof That Ohm’s Law Is Arcane Knowledge tells about a special cell phone case Kickstarter (Nikola Phone Case from Nikola Labs) that claims to recharge your battery by capturing radio energy put out by the cell phone itself. This means capturing RF from the WiFi and cellular transmitters. It’s been featured on dozens of tech blogs, wowed judges at TechCrunch Disrupt, and it’s a Kickstarter Staff Pick. It’s also proof that nearly everyone in the media who claims any knowledge of technology has no idea behind the foundational properties of technology. Astonishingly, this is not a perpetual motion machine, a device that is completely impractical, or an outright fraud. It’s deceptively correct when it comes to the physics of this device, and as always implementation is everything. This phone case will actually harvest RF energy, but it will never be able to extend the life of the phone’s battery because dramatic decrease in reception and most likely an increase in power draw due to the phone increasing its transmit power.The company claims that ” Nikola technology slows the rate at which the phone’s internal battery discharges, without impacting data transmission rates or call quality“, but I fins this hard to believe. There is simply no excuse why hundreds of people would give tens of thousands of dollars to a company that makes outrageous claims with zero evidence.
I earlier posted on one such example at Extending Alkaline Battery Life article. Batteriser is a $2.50 gadget that promises to extend disposable battery life by 800 percent. It is was hard for me to buy this kind of claims – and it turned ou that they did not hold. Dave Jones from EEVBlog has put together a great video on the how comes and why nots of the Batteriser.
Here is another one on the same series: Turn Your Windows Into Outlets With These Sticky Solar Chargers article tells about Yanko Design, Kyuho Song and Boa Oh’s design concepts for a suction-cup-equipped solar power charger provides an elegant solution to all our power needs. The charger sticks to the window, exposing solar panels to the sun on one side, with an outlet to plug in a device on the reverse. According to their mockups, the device would take five to eight hours to fully charge, and would provide 10 hours of electricity at that point. This device looks very nice, but it also has a practical problem – it does not workas advertized: A tiny tiny solar cell can just NOT produce a decent amount of energy to power anything but a mobile phone (or a tiny LED lamp) for a short period of time because the laws of physics. After a full day of sunshine this device (assuming it has a battery inside) will have stored some power, but maybe just enough to power your mobile for short time. The solar panel is so small that it will be very low power.
Viral ‘Solar Window Outlet’ Cannot Possibly Work article points out that all solar power technology is limited by one pesky little constant: the maximum amount of solar energy striking any representative section of the planet is generally about one kilowatt per square meter. The device can only have about 50 square centimeters of photovoltaic surface and with with PV surface efficiency of 10-15 percent, we will end up less than 1W maximum power when sun is shining. Squeezing a power inverter into a hockey-puck-sized container does not leave much space to battery and eats up the system efficiency. The most charitable interpretation of the solar outlet is that the designers “created” it as an exercise in visual design without actually consulting an electrical engineer.If you want at least charge your mobile using solar power, you will find better and cheaper solutions. But be warned that generally solar phone chargers may not be the answer – because these chargers normally need seven to eight hours of exposure to the sun to charge themselves.
Pavegen: The Company that can’t make energy out of crowds tries to make money out of them article tells that a company selling floor tiles which extract tiny, pointless amounts of energy from crowds walking across them is seeking fresh investment through the medium of crowdfunding. Had the designer been a real engineer, of course, Mr Kemball-Cook would swiftly have realised that the total amount of energy one can generate using human bodies – far less the even tinier amount of energy one can generate by placing tiles under people’s feet as they walk by – is utterly insignificant compared to the energy demands of modern civilisation. They look really rather pointless. Maybe they had some use: But what about about all the Big Footfall Data? You could find out all KINDS of stuff from that!
Eco products to save energy seems to be market where there are many products that do not live up to the claims. There are many Eco products you don’t need. Eco products you don’t need article shows you a plethora of eco products on the market that don’t live up to their claims of helping you save money on your energy bills. Although their technology might sounds convincing, many products have no effect on energy use – and one product even increased it.
Just two years ago there was an Indiegogo to sell a perpetual motion machine. Free energy machines of the type this particular inventor imagines are everywhere; just do a quick YouTube search to see. Perpetual motion cranks always seem to trot out Tesla, thus betraying their own ignorance of power generation.
Is this is the end of capitalism or accelerated version of it - no need to innovate and make a better mouse trap. All you need to do is convince enough people that you’ve made a better mouse trap. Has things changed to worse lately or has it been this bad all the time? It it just fact of life that products that do not work as claimed are common in every marketplace (Think of worthless vitamins and supplements, gimmicky exercise machines, love potions, gadgets to make your car run on water, etc., etc.).
Is the situation this bad? Do you disagree me on this? Please write a comment.