Let the Sunshine and Your Feet Do the Powering

The term "juice bag" can conjure up a wide range of images, from the inoffensive (a bag that holds a beverage to quench your thirst) to the offensive (since this is a G-rated Web site, I better not say, but you can go to the Urban Dictionary for examples). For this reason, I was a bit puzzled when I read a press release about a product line called Juice Bags. However, after reading about it, the name made sense.


Juice Bags is a line of solar-charging bags from Reware. The newest offering is a briefcase—Juice Bags ProFolio—that will charge PDAs, cell phones, and other handheld electronic devices. Unfortunately, although the ProFolio is big enough to hold a laptop, it isn't powerful enough to charge one.


"We’ve released the Juice Bags ProFolio in answer to the many requests we’ve received from business people who are looking for a product that gives them the freedom to roam while staying plugged in," says Henry Gentenaar, managing partner of Reware. "Plus, doing so environmentally is a bonus for those seeking to keep their electronics ready for action. It’s an easy step for businesses that want to go green."


ProFolio contains a thin-film solar panel that immediately converts sunlight into usable energy to charge all 12-volt electronic devices. You just need to plug your device into the bag. SolarReady batteries are available as accessories if you want to store the sun's energy for later use.


ProFolio will retail for $399, but the company is introducing the item at rewarestore.com for $299 while supplies last. The sunlight is free.

Another way in which you might eventually able to charge up your PDA or other small electronic devices is by hoofing it. Apparently, the U.S. military had tested a technology in which miniature generators were built into soldiers’ boots to generate power. Admittedly, powering your PDA, cell phone, or iPod by plugging it into batteries located in your shoes' heels would be awkward to say the least. However, the miniature generators might be placed, for example, under treadmills so that you can power up your PDA and your body during workouts.

In fact, a London-based company, The Facility, has adapted this technology for use under floors. When people walk on the floor, pads compress underneath, driving fluid through mini-turbines that then generate electricity, which is stored in a battery. Engineers estimate that if the floors were installed in the Victoria Underground station in London, the 34,000 travelers passing through every hour could power 6,500 light bulbs.

Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, UK, is one of the first targets for the foot-powered technology. If all goes as planned, miniature generators will be placed beneath the surfaces of the 570 stairs used by visitors to get to the top of the viewing platform. For more information about the company's plans for this technology, see "Light Fantastic: Pedestrians to Generate Power."


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