"Iive always been fascinated by renewable energy," Mr. Hornor explained. As cell phones, PDAs, and iPods got bigger screens, more features, and better functionality, battery technology struggled to keep up. "There was a power gap between all these new features and the lithium-ion technology."
Mr. Hornoris solution was Solio, which uses three solar panels to charge a single 3.7 Volt battery. That battery, in turn, powers whatever device you hook up to it: iPod, cell phone, or PDA. The technology required to make that happen is, as an engineer might say, non-trivial. Using a combination of circuitry and software, Solio uses that single built-in 3.7 Volt battery to produce a power supply anywhere between 4 Volts and 10 Volts. As an end-user, all you have to do is attach an adapter that connects to the device you want to charge.
If you find yourself thinking this device sounds clever, you are far from alone. Better Energyis booth has been mobbed for the last two days, and thereis no indication the interest will wane. "Itis been a busy two months," Mr. Horner says. The company ran a limited product release in France and the London to test their marketing and distribution before deploying in the US. Mr. Hornor is clearly pleased with his companyis progress, and with good reason. Chances are youill see Solio racking up a pile of "Best of Show" awards later this week.
Solio, by Better Energy Systems
So whatis the mentality behind the product? Mr. Hornor is wary of the marketing approach used with most "green" products. "We donit want to have this browbeating strategy" of getting people to buy environmentally friendly products. "Thereis a lot of [ecofriendly] product thatis going unnoticed because of poor marketing and design," Mr. Hornor said. The approach he advocated would use clever products with good design to help promote environmentally friendliness.
The Better Energy booth. Christopher Hornor, right, demonstrates the Solio.
To that end, Mr. Horner said he intends to integrate recycled and recyclable materials into every possible aspect of their product design, so that their products, while cool and useful "also happen to be environmentally friendly."
As for whatis next from the company, Mr. Hornor is keeping quiet. He said only that "Weive got several things in the pipeline," and included evasive phrases like "new materials" and "higher power." In the meantime, Better Energy seems to have enough on its plate: in addition to the Solio rollout, Mr. Horner is getting married in a few months. Apparently when it rains, it pours.
Stay tuned for a complete review of Solio.