There was a major announcement today from Nokia about the release of cheap phones for the emerging markets, featuring dual sims and the ever useful LED flashlight. What is even more interesting is that with the launch of the phones, a bicycle charger kit. According to CNET Asia, the kit will be available by year’s end.
Rounding up the announcements today is the Bicycle Charger Kit, which comprises a charger, dynamo and phone holder. When docked to the latter with a 2mm charger jack, the electrical generator will produce energy to juice up the handset. According to Nokia, the dynamo starts charging when the speed of the bicycle reaches 6kmh and stops when it hits 50kmh. It matches the efficiency of a normal charger when the bike is traveling at 12kmh.
The bicycle charger kit will be useful to many people in Kenya and other emerging markets, its only a matter of time before it is repurposed to charge other devices like small radios. All in all the phones seem AfriGadgetty, what with their dual sims; perfect for markets where people have more than one carrier – thinking of Nigeria here, where its not uncommon to see someone with multiple phones because of varying network coverage/dependability + LED flashlights, it is clear that Nokia is making products that have utility for millions of people around Africa. Personally I can’t wait to try out the phones and mobile kits as soon as I can get my hands on them. Come to think of it, this is hardware localization, something that could go hand in hand with the software localization we are clamoring for in the African market.
For modded bicycle posts from the AfriGadget archive, click here.
Many thanks to my friend Cyrus for the heads up, I think he has just inspired me to blog again.
This is part of an ongoing series of posts on the FLAP bag project, a collaborative effort by Timbuk2, Portable Light and Pop!Tech. We at AfriGadget are helping to field-test these bags that have solar power and lighting on them, and get interviews of the individuals using them.
Hayford Bempong and David Celestin are electricians at Accra Polytechnic, who I wrote about last as they had fabricated an FM radio station from scratch and used it at Maker Faire Africa. Hayford and David seemed like just the type to take a look at the bag and really determine its use. Being college-level students, they have a different type of lifestyle than many, and that might mean more ideas and thoughts about what the FLAP bag could be used for.
True to form, they were not nearly as excited about the quality of the stitching, or the textiles used, but very interested in the internal electrical components. They were excited about the idea of a bag with an in-built solar panel, and were curious as to wattage and the ability use step-ups and inverters to make it even more useful.
One suggestion that they made was around durability of the electrical components, specifically they suggested that a metal box should be built around it. Life in Africa can be quite rough on gear, and the chance that someone will sit on, drop, or crush this part is quite high.
I’m a sucker for radios and antennas, and was just so excited to see the guys from Accra Polytechnic at Maker Faire Africa. Hayford Bempong, David Celestin and Michael Amankwanor are three members of the National Society of Black Engineers who have created a full radio with their own funds and brains.
They showed up at the event and setup the local Maker Faire Africa radio station, running at 101.7 FM. In conjunction with the speakers that they setup for the close proximity announcements, the radio was used to transmit up to a couple thousand meters away and spread the word about upcoming activities.
David Celestin has been building power inverters and other electronic devices from scratch since he was a teenager. Below is one of his first power inverters, that still works, and which runs out of a little box. You can tell it is all fabricated from scraps and locally available materials.
Here is their home-brew VHF SWR meter:
The team also creates their own antennas from scratch, including the “slim jim” below, “ground plane and a circular antenna.
Just last week two African inventors won recognition for inventions that involved scrap, bicycles and mobile phones.
William Kamkwamba grew up as a farmer in Malawi, at the age of just 14, he had built his own wind generator.
During a drought his families fortunes collapsed and he spent his time in libraries reading and discovering about wind energy. He found components for his invention in a scrap yard; a tractor fan, shock absorber, PVC pipes and a bicycle frame.
When his prototype was able to run four bulbs people arrived to charge their mobile phone. William has just appeared on TED Global conference in Oxford this week to the conference to tell the audience how he did this.
Another inventor has already appeared on Afrigadjet and has just been discovered by the BBC. Pascal Katana, 22 who with Jeremiah Murimi, 24, has gone beyond fish and has invented a dynamo-powered “smart charger” to help people without electricity in rural areas to charge their cell phones. The system costs $4.50 and it takes an hour to fully charge a cell phone.
Simon has hardwired a way to open and lock his door remotely via his phone, as well as get tea brewing and other manual and remote tasks. The video speaks for itself, so I’m not going to say anything other than to link you to my past thoughts on challenges for tech entrepreneurs in Africa.
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