Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 25, 2013.

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The Practical Meter helps you charge your phone faster by solving a problem millions of people experience.

Our Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can still get a Practical Meter. Head over to thepowerpot.com for more info and to place an order.


How Fast Are You Charging?

It's more common than you think. You plug in your phone, it says 'charging', but do you know how fast? Millions of people deal with slow charge times from their PCs or laptops, and they don't even realize it. Slow charging rates happen because of different standards for high-powered USB and can result in charge times exceeding six hours! We are introducing the Practical Meter to help you solve these slow charge times.

Know Your Power

Smartphones have become an essential part of our lives. Keeping them charged is more important than ever, but today's phones often die before the day is through. This makes charging at top-speed mandatory. Currently, there is no way to know if your phone is charging fast or slow. The Practical Meter changes this. It displays real-time charge rates of any USB device so you know how fast you're charging.

Do you ever use a PC/computer to charge at work or home? Let's plug in the Practical Meter and find out how quickly it charges an iPhone.  Using the factory cable, we only get 2.5 watts. This is only 50% of the max charging speed, which means this phone will take 4+ hours to charge! Plug the same setup into a Mac and now it behaves like it should, charging in 1.5 hours at top speed (5 watts).

Android Too

The same thing happens with most Android models on both Macs and PCs. This is because there are different standards for putting a full 5-watts into a USB device. iPhone has its own standard, Android uses another and so on.

To solve this we developed a 3-in-1 charging cable, that optimizes charge times with iPhone, Android as well as Mini USB.

Rewards: Charge Faster!

Note: Single orders ONLY. You can order additional units after we fund.

Stretch Goals

Use It Everywhere

The Practical Meter helps you know your power with no added cables and no engineering degree required! Plug it into any USB port and charge the same way as before. Watch your power output change from one device to the next.

Portable Generators

Unsurprisingly portable USB chargers like solar panels and battery packs also have their share of compatibility issues. A common example is shown in the video, when poor positioning reduces power to less than one-watt. Smartphones may indicate they are charging but the Practical Meter tells us that they aren't receiving any power. This can be solved by repositioning your solar panel and using the Practical Meter to find the sweet spot.

Keep Charging!

Our 3-in-1 charging tip maximizes power draw to help you charge faster. Use it on any USB port to ensure your phone is charging at top speed.

Let's visit our previous example, we charge an iPhone on a PC and get charge times exceeding 4 hours. We switch out the factory cable with ours and voila! The charge rate doubles, and our charge time is now under 2 hours!

Tech Details

The Practical Meter fits into any USB port and displays the charge rate of any device. Just plug it in and charge as you normally would. Smartphones charge at 5-watts max, so we added 5 LED lights, each representing 1 watt of power.

When all five bars are lit, your phone will charge at top speed, between 1 and 2 hours. If the meter only shows 2 or 3 watts, you'll be waiting for up to 6 hours for your phone to charge. Knowing your power will help you maximize charge times by choosing the best charging cables for your device. 

The Practical Meter uses a microcontroller to read the output data from a current sensor.  It averages this measurement over a few seconds and illuminates the number of LEDs corresponding to the measured power using the relation: Power = Voltage x Current. This design gives you simple real-time visual feedback while charging your devices. The Practical Meter meter itself weighs 0.3 ounces (8.5 g) and consumes less than 1/10 of a watt at maximum.  The optimized charging tips are for charging only and do not allow data transfer. However, the Practical Meter by itself will allow you to transfer data so you can monitor power use while transferring music or pictures. 

High Power Mode allows you to measure up to 10 watts for higher powered devices such as iPads and tablets.

Press Kit

Check out our Press Kit. Pictures can be reused freely on any medium.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The Practical Meter's beauty is its simplicity. You don't need to know about voltages and amperage to understand how much power you're getting. We've done a lot of leg work to make sure things go smoothly once our project funds. Its been prototyped and revised several times and is ready for mass production. We have manufacturing arranged, but to meet minimum order and tooling costs, we need your help. With your support, we will be able to mass produce a high-quality, injection-molded Practical Meter.

FAQ

  • Yes. The Practical Meter has been expanded to work with tablets, metering up to 10-watts of power! See our update on July 10th for more information!

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  • Yes. The Practical Meter will work with the iPhone 5! In some of the pictures in the campaign, you can see my personal iPhone 5 being used. The Practical Meter can be used in-line with your native cable or you can use the 30-pin to Lightning adapter with our optimized charging tips, to rapidly charge iPhone 5.

    We are unable to offer the Lightning adapter itself or a Lightning cable as part of our optimized charging kit at this time. We are investigating this issue and will keep you posted.

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  • No. Kickstarter does not allow bulk ordering of rewards. Once our Kickstarter project is complete we will update our backers on how to order additional units. The best way to support us now is to back our project! Thanks so much for all of your support!

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  • The Practical Meter consumes less than 1/10th of a watt at a maximum. Since it can help you achieve up to 3 extra watts, its power consumption is pretty negligible.

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  • Yes. The Practical Meter by itself allows the transfer of data between client and host. This allows you to monitor charge rates during music and photo syncs.

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  • No. While the Practical Meter itself can pass data, the included cables are charge-only. They omit data communication in order to ensure a faster charge. Use native cables or bluetooth for data transfer.

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  • Yes. We have tested these with various smartphones, tablets, cameras, etc. and they can power two or three devices simultaneously! Also, on USB 3.0, the cable can provide up to 10-watts of power, meaning you can quickly charge two phones at once!

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