Monday, January 25, 2016


Technology makes our lives.

What would we do without it? How would you keep on top of your fantasy football teams? Or get sports scores in general? How else will you get live tweets about fashion on the red carpet for Oscar night? Without technology you can forget all about posting all those pictures of your cat or your lunch.

Obviously I'm being snarky, but every once in a while I read about an invention that has a higher purpose, a sense of selflessness, or at the very least mitigated cupidity, makes our end uses for technology seem vain and shallow. I speak of  GravityLight. I don't even remember quite how I came across the light, but I'm rather taken by it. What is it? Allow me...

Understand that well over 20% of the world's population does not have access to electrical power. That sounds astounding to those of us in the land of plenty, but for the developing world and the poorest of nations, it is a fact of everyday life. In order for people see in the dark in those areas, the common solution is a kerosene lamp. Besides being a non-renewable energy source and a pollutant, an open kerosene flame is downright dangerous. The GravityLight negates this danger and does so without need of power lines, batteries, or even solar panels. It uses gravity.

A 12kg weight is lifted up a zip line and begins a very slow descent, about 1mm per second. Then "this movement powers a drive sprocket, which rotates very slowly with high torque (force). A polymer geartrain running through the product turns this input into a high speed, low torque output that drives a DC generator at thousands of rotations per minute." This generates electrical power which is then sent to an LED. The light produced by the LED is five times greater than that emitted by a kerosene lamp. About 20 minutes of light can be produced before the light reaches the bottom. Once that happens, one simply raises the weight back to the top and  the process starts over.

As you know, I'm constantly writing about what technology is doing or will do for us. Rarely though do I encounter something that can have such an immediate effect, such a true benefit for so many in the world and with such simplicity. Please visit the GravityLight page and if you can, support it.

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