Wet 'n' windy portable turbine spins up battery power off-grid
While an outdoor adventure is a great time to switch off from the digital world, the modern mountaineer or connected camper might still want to send some snaps to social media. Battery life usually limits that luxury, but there's a tent-load of gadgets you could take with you to top up your devices, and now there's a new one vying for room in your backpack. Seaformatics' Waterlily is a portable turbine that can harness the power of both wind and water.
Away from the outlet there are plenty of possible power sources, and camping gadgets have found ways to squeeze juice out of the sun, salt water, campfires, wind or flowing rivers. It's those last two that the Waterlily tucks under its belt, and while we've seen several devices do one or the other, not many offer both options. The Powermonkey Expedition does (along with solar and manual power), but it's a bulky, expensive beast.
The Waterlily is designed to be more portable, weighing 800 g (1.8 lb) and measuring 180 mm (7 in) across and 75 mm (3 in) thick, and the little turbine can be placed into a river or a windy place to spin up some power for any device that charges via USB.
Submerged, Seaformatics says the Waterlily can operate in water flowing at speeds between 1 km/h and 11 km/h (0.6 mph and 6.8 mph), but the peak output of 25 watts is achieved at 7.2 km/h (4.5 mph). Out in the air, it needs a minimum wind speed of 10.8 km/h (6.7 mph) to get going, but apparently finds its stride around the 72 km/h (45 mph) mark.
If the weather's calm and there's no river handy, Seaformatics says it plans to add a hand crank to the kit, although this is probably more for a quick top-up than a full charge. The company also says it's working on a bike mount and a tow cable, so the Waterlily can be dragged behind a canoe or kayak.
Seaformatics is currently taking preorders for the Waterlily, which it says will be shipped to early birds in August. Orders will initially cost US$99, although after April the price jumps up to $149.
The Waterlily can be seen in action in the video below.