During a disaster, there are few options for charging the electronic devices that are so important to our modern lives. But now there's one more, courtesy of a company called Stower, and this one depends on very basic elements.
It's kickstarting a 'Candle Charger' that exploits a nifty physics trick to charge any USB-powered device using just fire and water. That trick is the thermoelectric effect - a property of certain semiconductors.
The effect turns a thermal gradient - when one part of the material is hot and the other is cold - into electricity. It's simple, safe, and has been used widely for more than twenty years in cars, fridges and more.
The tricky bit comes in converting that electricity into a form your smartphone can handle without blowing it up. That's where Stower's innovation comes - creating a "smart circuit" that matches the requirements of whatever's plugged in.
At the time of writing, the company has raised almost $12,000 of a $30,000 goal with 41 days still to go.
If you'd like to get hold of one (bundled with a six-hour candle), you'll need to pledge at least $65. Delivery is due in December.
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