Good Thinking

GravityLight tackles weighty issue of lighting in the developing world

GravityLight tackles weighty i...
The GravityLight is designed to replace kerosene lamps in the developing world
The GravityLight is designed to replace kerosene lamps in the developing world
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The GravityLight is designed to replace kerosene lamps in the developing world
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The GravityLight is designed to replace kerosene lamps in the developing world
The GravityLight is delivered in a durable fabric bag that is filled with rocks or sand to form the weight
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The GravityLight is delivered in a durable fabric bag that is filled with rocks or sand to form the weight
The GravityLight produces light for up to 30 minutes at a time
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The GravityLight produces light for up to 30 minutes at a time
The GravityLight can be used to power other electrical devices
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The GravityLight can be used to power other electrical devices
The GravityLight uses a weighted bag pulled down by gravity to generate electricity
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The GravityLight uses a weighted bag pulled down by gravity to generate electricity
The GravityLight is aimed at the developed world
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The GravityLight is aimed at the developed world
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With most of us in the developed world more concerned about the flow of electricity to power our computers, TVs and all manner of other wonders of the modern age, it’s easy to forget the massive impact resulting from one of the first widespread public uses of electricity – the humble incandescent light bulb. With a large proportion of the world’s population still lacking reliable access to electricity, the GravityLight hopes to bring the benefits of environmentally friendly artificial light to the developing world.

As the developed world makes the move to electrical lighting options more environmentally friendly than the incandescent bulb, the team behind the GravityLight says that around 1.5 billion people in the developing world still rely on kerosene wick lamps for lighting. A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois claims these kerosene lamps are even more hazardous to the environment and human health than previously thought – and they were already known to be pretty terrible.

After being challenged to develop a solar-powered LED lantern for villages in Africa, the creators of the GravityLight instead turned to a different power source that is freely available to anyone on the planet – gravity. They’ve turned to crowdfunding to get their idea off the ground.

The GravityLight produces light for up to 30 minutes at a time
The GravityLight produces light for up to 30 minutes at a time

The GravityLight is an LED lamp that works by harnessing the gravitational force exerted on a weight hanging from the lamp. One lift of a 20-pound (9 kg) weight, (which is formed by filling the fabric bag the light is delivered in with rocks or sand), generates enough power to provide 30 minutes of light with no need for rechargeable batteries or fuel, which means no running costs.

The unit has also been designed so that it can be used to power other devices, such as a radio, or recharge batteries, which can be connected to terminals on the front of the unit. The brightness of the GravityLight can also be adjusted based on the task at hand or to increase light running time.

The team hopes to get the cost to villagers of the GravityLight down to less than US$5, which would see them saving money after switching from kerosene lamps after a period of around three months.

They project is rapidly approaching its $55,000 funding goal, which will be used to tool, manufacture and distribute at least 1,000 gravity powered lights in Africa and India with the aim of improving the design and efficiency of the device based on actual use.

The team’s GravityLight video pitch can be viewed below.

Source: indiegogo via engadget

GravityLight: lighting for the developing countries

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21 comments
999 HOT
What a great idea - good luck!
Please have a think about those who get a living from the small scale distribution of kerosene. They may be out of work and struggling to feed their families.
Adam Specht
OMG It's brilliant ! Cheap, green, simple idea! I would love to have it myself for hiking or whatever! wow.
technut
Maybe they could be recruited as distributors of the GravityLight, in parallel with their kerosene business? Brilliant ('scuse the pun) idea, based on the ancient weight-driven clock drive system. It needs to be made tough though, as repairs or replacement would probably be prohibitively expensive.
David Wagner
This is a great idea. It should be on Dragon's Den to help people in third world countries. It should be set up that everyone who buys one in the western world adds an extra $5 so that a free one can be given out in Africa. That way in the west it is a profitable sustainable business and in other parts of the world they have safe light for the first time.
Canis Major
@999 Hot
Great Idea!
You are right about the distributors of Kerosene - but maybe we could get them to distribute & service these and other eco-friendly lights.
What would really make a difference is if we could carry out the production in the developing world as well.
Any volunteers to see it it could be done?
Rich Brumpton
This is a very cool idea, but I'm bothered by the assumption that it is a good idea to replace a mostly automated lighting system with a labor intensive one.
I sure would be more likely to buy one to replace another light source if I could get at least 2+ hours of light from a single "charging" but 30 minutes is almost a joke compared to a lamp.
Michael Crumpton
Rather than aim it at the 3rd world, they should just sell it in the US for disaster preparedness. After they have sold 10 thousand at $10 the cost per unit should be enough to sell in the 3rd world for $5.
I would also like to see an accessory that lets a rocking chair drive the generator.
Snake Oil Baron
Anyone who can distribute kerosene can distribute other things and increases in productivity yielded by light at night will provide families with extra spending power to provide markets for things they can distribute.
Bruce H. Anderson
This reminds me of those hand-crank LED flashlights that are used for emergencies. Probably more robust, though. Excellent idea.
WDD
Great work gentleman! The world has become one step closer to being a better place… Keep it up!