At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES (News - Alert)) “Unveiled” evening event, Eton, SPOT and Tremont Power demonstrated gizmos equally applicable for casual use in the wild and in emergency situations.
Eton has been all over ruggedized radio/flashlight/recharge devices with one or more sources of off-grid power, expanding from hand-cranked power to incorporating solar cells and lithium batteries in new products. The forthcoming “Raptor” incorporates a digital altimeter, barometer, clock, compass, flashlight,1800 mAh lithium battery, solar panel, AMFM/Wideband and NOAA weather radio, and a USB charging port into a brightly colored (orange or green) splash-proof case that can be clipped onto a harness.
In a partnership with the American Red Cross, Eton is also rolling out the TurboDyne series of devices. The Road Toro has a powerful LED spotlight, a 3 red LED flashing hazard beacon, and flits in the glove compartment. It has a rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC power input, a crank, and a nifty folding tripod, so you can position the light/beacon where you need it in case of car repair/breakdown.
Rover is a compact AM/FM/NOAA weather band radio with a crank charger and a USB port for power. At the top of the line, the Axis (News - Alert) is a makeover of an earlier Eton product incorporating AM/FM/NOAA weather radio, 4 white LEDs, a flashing red LED, and with power options including AC power from a mini-USB cable, a self-powered hand crank, and 3 AAA batteries.
SPOT introduced the SPOT CONNECT, a double-thick pager-sized (does anyone remember pagers?) satellite communicator powered by a pair of lithium AA batteries that can sync via Bluetooth with a smartphone with an app to send messages and GPS coordinates – short, bursty data, not “War and Peace.”
Users can type and send 41 character messages or select from a set of 120 character predefined messages, so you can provide Facebook, Twitter, and Google (News - Alert) Maps updates when traveling or if you’re simply out of cell phone coverage. There’s also a S.O.S. rescue button you can hit in case of dire emergency. Messages are relayed via a constellation of 48 low-earth orbit Globalstar satellites; no surprise, since SPOT is a subsidiary of Globalstar.
Currently SPOT Connect supports Android with an iPhone (News - Alert) app currently under scrutiny by Apple for AppStore approval. Support for other smartphone OSes is in the works.
If you just need a little juice, the nPowerPEG from Tremont Electric may be solution. The PEG (Personal Energy Generator) is a slick-looking piston encased in titanium that harnesses kinetic energy to charge a 100mAh lithium polymer battery; the battery can also charge devices or be charged from its standard USB port.
PEG works on the same principle as a shakable flashlight – you move the rod, a magnet moves up and down, electrical current is generated which goes to charge the battery or any connected device. PEG is intended to be placed vertically in a backpack, briefcase, or suitcase, so as you move, you generate power. If you need more power, you can grab the rod and vigorously shake it – think that flashlight again.Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf