Everyone needs to stay in touch. We've got wall chargers, car chargers and emergency battery chargers but we all know that these won't support us for very long away from a mains power socket.
Smartphones and tablets are very hungry. A day per charge is about all we get, but what if we're away for longer, or maybe we forget the charger? Enter the i-POG - instant power on the go.
What is the i-POG?
The i-POG is not a battery, it cannot be charged. It doesn't need to be plugged in. It's different because it produces power from aluminium Most people don't know you can get power from aluminium but, as an example, the energy in the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle is from powdered aluminium Aluminium has a tough outer layer, like glass, but underneath it's very reactive, and this is what we tap into to make power. If you watch our video you'll see how this works.
So the i-POG is an off-grid power source, which means you can use it whenever you want, away from a wall socket and it will give you constant power for as long as you like. It uses aluminium and we call that the 'fuel'. One fuel load of six aluminium plates will support your phone for six days and your tablet for four.
But it doesn't stop there, all you do is open up the clamshell case, rinse out the plate holders and clip in another six aluminum plates to get more autonomy away from base. The waste product is the same as the stuff in indigestion tablets, so it's ok to rinse away.
The only other thing you do is top up the fill point with some salt water (just some salt sachets from a restaurant in a glass of water is fine). We supply the fuel refill packs for £1 (pack of 5 refills) but if you run out, just use some aluminium packaging or household foil to keep powered up.
So How do we move forward?
We've made a working prototype as you can see in the video, and we've designed the final version on CAD. Next we need to design the mould tools which will cost about £10k, and then we need to get the mould tools manufactured which will consist of two sets ; one low volume set to allow any final detail changes to be made at a cost of about £30k, and a set of high volume production moulds which will cost about £60k. So we need about £100k to get into production. We aim to be receiving the initial mould set by the end of April 2013 and be in production by the end of June 2013.
Risks and challenges
Firstly, at Metalectrique, we're used to managing risk on R&D projects like i-POG, it's normal for us to have a few back up plans to keep on track. We monitor and manage risk on a monthly basis or more frequently if needs be, and we use industry-standard risk management tools.
Developing the i-POG into a production version carries technical risk in terms of performance (voltage, power, lifetime) but we think these are low risk, based on the performance of the prototype. There are also production risks (cost, mould complexity, materials compatibility) but we assess these as low based on experience. Finally there is market uptake (user experience, aesthetics, competing products). We assess these as low because the i-POG is unique as the only compact, high power truly off-grid USB tablet & phone charger on the market. It does require some operator input, but the reward is continual support for tablets and phones.
It means you never have to plug it in, like a solar charger. For iPOG, you don't need the sun, just some aluminium, water and salt will give you instant, constant power. iPOG will run garden lights, a music player on the beach, whatever needs about 10 Watts of power.
Yes. We know mobile phones are heavily used in developing nations but also that charging them is very difficult and expensive. Solar charged phones are in use in Africa but the panels get covered in dust and they're limited in power. We think iPOG fits very well in supporting mobile users anywhere that's away from a power grid, even on a continuous basis.
Join us at our production launch party in 2013 and meet the team at Metalectrique. Also, one Special Edition Chrome i-POG Personalised off-grid USB charger. This will be one of only 10 SE i-POGs produced with SE serial number and your name etched on.