About three years ago in design school at the University of Michigan, I was making concept sketches of wearable energy-generating devices, such as turbines, for my thesis on people-powered energy systems. Although I focused in on a different, yet quite similar, project, I have been waiting for a personal, handheld wind turbine to come to market. After years of waiting, finally an attractive, multi-functional, and effective one is available.
The HYmini is a personal wind turbine meant to be attached to the handlebars of your bike (when you are actually out riding it), to the roof of your car, or just to be held in your hand on a windy day. It harnesses wind current, charges a battery to ultimately power your 5V devices such as an iPod, MP3 player, digital camera…
Now, this isn’t just any one-dimensional device. Above all, this product serves as portable power storage with a built-in power-generating device, yet if no source of wind current is present you can plug in the portable solar plate to the DC input to collect energy. This energy goes directly into the battery as well. If it’s cloudy and the air is still, then you can plug in a hand crank generator or a hydro generator through the DC input to charge up. Finally, if all natural forces/sources fail you, then you can plug it into the wall to charge the battery for a remote trip where no power will be available. (Allow me to note that this sequence means that fossil fueled electric power [that which come our of your all] is the last and final source and should not be necessary unless there is no air current, no sun, no ability to move water through a turbine, and you are physically incapable of driving a crank.) Once the battery is charged you are free to hook up your devices through the USB jack.
The design of the HYmini is congruent with the style and of the Apple brand: iPod, iphone, you name it… these look like they should sit side by side. It is clean, sleek, rounded yet rigid, modern and minimal. That being said, if so many claim that they got an iPod instead of any other MP3 player, an iPhone instead of a Blackberry (even though it’s double the price) because of the interface and good design, maybe the HYmini will influence these gadget consumers to power their iPod responsibly while maintaining style and beauty. If it is this branding image that currently influences our e-consumer tendencies, I am happy to align a product that initiates responsible behavior to it. If you consider how dependent we are on our phones and portable devices, and how often we charge them (about daily), it is a wise idea to charge them off the grid. If not as a way to save money on powering up devices, possibly charging a battery via wind current is a way to monitor your activity throughout a day.