Nokia Shows Bike-Powered Mobile Phone Charger

Mobile phone users can resort to pedal power to charge their handsets after the Finnish giant Nokia released the Nokia Bicycle Charger Kit.

The Nokia Bicycle Charger Kit will provide users with “free and environmentally friendly electricity for mobile phones,” Nokia said. The unit consists of a charger and dynamo, as well as a holder to secure the phone to the bike.

Pedal Power

It makes use of a dynamo (essentially a small electrical generator) driven by the bike wheels to charge the handset through the non-standard 2mm charging jack used in most Nokia mobile phones.

“You must look at a number of things when it comes to power management – such as ensuring the phone’s operating system is as power-efficient as possible,” said Nokia vice president, Alex Lambeek. “Now, with our innovative bike charger, people get even more freedom to use their Nokia without worrying about battery life.”

It seems that Nokia is not only aiming this at the emerging markets, but also most developed countries where bicycles are being increasingly used as a cheaper means of transport.

“Bicycles are the most widespread means of transport in many markets around the world, so this is just one more benefit to be gained from an activity people are already doing,” said Lambeek. “This is a great solution to a real challenge, whether people will use it due to limited access to electricity, or to be more environmentally responsible.”

It is thought that charging times will vary depending on the speed, but according to Nokia a a cyclist completing a 10 minute journey at 6mph (or 10 km/h) will produce enough power for 28 minutes of talk time or 37 hours of standby time.

Apparently a speed of around 4 mph (6 kph) will need to be maintained in order to provide sufficient energy for effective charging.

Nokia said the charging kit will be available through its stores worldwide by the end of 2010. The price in Kenya, where it was launched, is approximately £12.50 (or 15 euros), although it is expected to be priced higher in more developed markets.

Green Push

The charger represents the latest green push for the mobile phone giant. In March it filed a US patent for a phone charger that harvests kinetic energy. The technology has been used in laptops, PDAs and GPS receivers, according to Nokia. Essentially, the mobile devices would be powered, in part, through the movements of their owners.

Solar charging is also a good way to charge phones, with at least one device made which has the solar panel built directly into the back of the phone, and other companies making solar backpacks to charge multiple devices.

Nokia, along with Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments, also signed a memorandum drafted by the European Commission last year, stating that they would standardise on micro-USB phone chargers. The change would eliminate the need for each new phone to come with a charger – and stop users throwing away old chargers with the purchase of a new phone.

Ironically enough, however, Nokia is not moving very quickly towards the new connector, with most of its phones still using a fiddly and non-standard power jack. This new mobile charger uses the Nokia non-standard connector of course, so it can’t easily be used to charge other phones.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

View Comments

  • This strikes me as a gimmick.

    Many bikes already have dynamos on them to power lights - and dynamo power is the greenest way to do that.

    Does Nokia propose to add another dynamo?

    Does it offer a way to connect its charger to existing dynamo systems?

    Or use its Nokia charger to power other makers' phones?

    There are already plenty of bike-charging devices on the market which are more open to general use.

    Once more the phone company has stumbled into an area of which it knows little, and will almost certainly come a cropper.

  • I'd definitely get one if it was that cheap.

    It would enable me to use google maps and my phone's GPS without worrying about draining the batteries.

    but I suspect it is something to go between the dynamo and the phone to smooth out the supply - I'm told it would damage my phone to connect it directly.

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