World's number two cellphone manufacturer Motorola plans to roll out a bicycle that charges your cellphone as you ride, reports Darren Murph of Engadget, who watched Motorola's CEO Ed Zander ride one into a packed room at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2007 earlier this week. The new bike sports a cradle on the handlebars that holds a mobile phone securely in place, while the motion of the pedals generates electricity to recharge its battery pack. Depending on the price, this might be a good solution for the millions of cellphone users in Africa who rely on bicycles as their primary modes of transportation. Here's a sampling of the more constructive comments on the bicycle (see the comments section of the original article):
I think it's a great idea. When power goes out, too...most people are left stranded and have no options. Makes perfect sense for a market like China with so many bikes, and I suspect limited success in some other parts of the world (Netherlands, etc), too. Especially with rising fuel prices and obesity issues today. I think the bike looks great and the phone holder should be standard on many bikes (along with the fenders/mudguards). Bikes aren't just for recreation, and more people in the western world are waking up to the practicalities of actually doing daily travel with a bike (and getting fit in the process!).
Mike makes the following very good point about the engineering:
Why would they make the pedal movement charge the bike and not the wheel movement. Then it won't charge if you are coasting and might charge slower when in a higher gear. I know I had a bike light about 20+ years ago that had a mini generator on it that was in contact with the wheel and when I was moving, the light was on. Was kind of neat.
My favorite comment was by Trickyny, especially the last sentence:
This is a excellent idea with poor execution. In developing nations cell phones could be very useful where infrastructure has not kept up with the rapidly expanding market. However, why Motorola chose to create a branded bike rather than a just an attachment (like the way most bike lights and speedometers are designed) is beyond me. Logically, people would much more readily buy something to use with the bike they already owned, rather than buying a whole new bike.
So, Motorola's cellphone charging is great innovation. There is a potentially huge demand for it given the rapid growth in cellphone usage in Africa. All its needs is some fine-tuning of the engineering aspects and the deployment approach to realize its full potential. And, as the folks at Afrigadget and eCARE will tell you, there's no shortage of local ingenuity and business acumen in Africa to lend a hand with the needed technical modifications and market deployment of this excellent idea.