(By C. Bonnington) A lot of Kickstarter projects never get fully funded. Others that do never see the light of day. With the continued strain on gas prices, masses of commuters opting to pedal to work rather than sit in rush hour traffic, and our growing reliance on mobile devices, a bike-powered mobile device charger is something that should become real. And it doesn’t hurt that the company behind it, Siva Cycles, hopes to donate one of their wheel-mounted chargers to people in need in developing countries for every 10 sold.
The Atom is a lightweight (300 gram), high-efficiency bicycle generator that can charge your mobile device while you pedal–or after the fact thanks to a detachable 1300mAh battery pack. It’s kind of like a Mophie that you don’t have to plug in.
The good news is that, if funded, this project actually stands a chance of becoming a real thing. Siva cofounder and CEO David Delcourt has ten years of entrepreneurial and product development experience, and cofounder and CTO Aaron Latzke has been in the mechanical engineering space for a decade, most recently designing and constructing metrology tools for the semi-conductor space.
Though early in the product’s development, the engineering is evident in how easy the Atom is to use: simply mount it on a standard-sized bicycle by removing the rear quick release or wheel nut, attach the Atom to the hub, and then put the wheel back in place.
And though it’s not invisible, the Atom is relatively unobtrusive at 7.5 inches tall, 3 inches wide, and 1.2 inches deep. The design is simple: black, and rectangular, with the removable USB battery pack easily accessible at the upper end of the generator. Or you can run a ribbon cable discretely up your frame to a plug underneath the saddle and charge your device directly.
Being able to charge mobile electronics directly is how the Atom differs from current bike generators on the market. Existing hub generators provide AC power, which is not suitable for directly charging USB devices. They require chunky cables burdened with AC-DC converters and batteries to make them useful for charging mobile devices, Latzke explained. By comparison, the Atom has all the electronics you need to deliver immediately usable power inside its package: an integrated battery, a 3:1 gear ratio for greater efficiency, AC-DC converter and regulators so a constant stream of power is delivered, maxing out at 4.5 Watts and 500 mA if you’re averaging 15 mph.
The Atom will retail for $105. Support it on Kickstarter here.