Power your smart phone with sunlight on the go

An Ottawa-based company has developed an environmentally friendly and portable power charger for handheld devices like the smart phone, iPod and Nintendo, that eliminates the need for disposable batteries.


The Kiwi U-Powered device, built by eco-friendly developer of consumer electronics Kiwi Choice Inc., can be powered by sunlight by way of three solar panels, a USB port or a car charger. The device has a capacity of 2,000mAh – enough to charge an average handheld device twice – and retains the power for the life of the charger, said the company’s CEO Alia Banna.


“There are lot of environmentally friendly products and some of them are not very useful, some of them are very pricey,” said Banna. “We tried to work out the different pieces of the puzzle.”


Banna, who always had an interest in green product research, said the goal was to make genuine difference with an product that was both usable and affordable, rather than merely “riding the eco-friendly way.”


Banna is among a handful of Canadians nominated this year for the ITAC 10th Annual IT Hero Awards, which recognize the creative application of IT to significantly improve the lives of Canadians and demonstrate social and economic benefit.

Nominate someone you work with for a ComputerWorld Canada IT Leadership Award

 ComputerWorld Canada will feature several nominees in the weeks preceding the unveiling of the winners on June 22. Banna is nominated in the Corporate IT Hero Awards category sponsored by Research in Motion Ltd. There is also a Community IT Hero Award category sponsored by Innovapost Inc.


The portability of the charger is useful in a variety of settings including mobile workers and people on a camping trip, said Banna.


Available since May of this year and the first product the company has launched, Kiwi U-Powered has already got the attention of customers seeking environmentally friendly products at a Huntsville, Ont.-based eco-living store where the charger is sold. Besides being one retailer who sells the product, Jonathan MacKay, owner of Sustain, uses the charger himself to power his cell phone and digital camera. “The way the world is today you really need things like cell phones, particularly in business these handheld devices keep you connected, current and competitive,” said MacKay.


While some might frown upon the proliferation of devices and its impact on the environment, MacKay said there are options available for responsible ownership of devices.


Green benefits aside, MacKay particularly likes the portability of the Kiwi U-Powered charger. “The beauty of it is for international travel, you don’t need to be able to plug (your device) into different kinds of voltages so you don’t need adapters,” he said.


Kiwi Choice is working on other eco-friendly offerings such as efficient lighting products, said Banna.


Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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