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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

A Windmill for Your Pocket

Air Date: Week of April 4, 2008

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

The five-inch Hymini collects wind and solar energy that feeds portable devices like cell phones.(Courtesy of Miniwiz)

The sun and wind can power your portable gadgets and keep you connected. Host Bruce Gellerman talks with designer Arthur Huang about his creation, the HYmini-- a solar panel and windmill that fit in your pocket.

Transcript

GELLERMAN: Well, from an egg-beater turbine in your backyard to a windmill in your pocket.

Maybe your kitchen’s like mine. On the counter is a tangle of wires plugged into my digital devices: my cell phones, mp3 players, pdas, cameras. You know, the usual. And per usual I often forget to plug them in. So when I need them most they’re dead as digital doornails. But now there’s a device that promises to keep you charged in an environmentally sustainable way. It’s a windmill and solar collector that fits in your pocket. It’s called the HYmini, and the gadget is the brainchild of Arthur Huang. Arthur, thanks for stopping by Living on Earth.

HUANG: Thank you.

GELLERMAN: So, we've got the HYmini spread out on this desk...Let's go through it. How does it work? HUANG: It’s, basically, a miniaturized hybrid system that allows you to use different types of green power to charge the device. The power bank itself actually has a built-in wind power generator. It also has additional input outlets that allow you to plug in the solar panels, so you can string them into a ray and increase the capacity.

GELLERMAN: So, I’ve got a solar panel that I can plug into this windmill device and inside that is a battery I can charge.


Designer Arthur Huang says people need to think small when they think green. (Courtesy of Miniwiz)

HUANG: Yes, and you can store the power, and output it with USB into all your other devices.

GELLERMAN: Now, how much wind or how long do I have to charge this in order to charge my mp3 player?

HUANG: For example, a 20 minute wind charge will probably give you around like 30 minutes worth of mp3 playtime. If you include it in your daily routine, for example, you're biking in to work, then you lay the solar panel on your desk while you’re next to the window, you actually get a lot of green energy input into the system.

GELLERMAN: What’s this thing here?

HUANG: This is a hand-cranked generator, which is able to plug into HYmini and then you are able to turn it and then using your sheer hand power—

SOUND OF GENERATOR CRANKING]

GELLERMAN: So, how long do I have to crank this before I get a charge for my cell phone?

HUANG: Surprisingly, the hand crank—actually you’re turning in the wrong direction.

[SOUND OF GENERATOR CRANKING]

HUANG: Pretty much one minute of turning is one minute of talk-time.

GELLERMAN: You know, what this has given me is a greater appreciation of just what does come out of the wall, and how much energy it takes to get that power to my wall.

HUANG: Yeah, definitely. The majority of the carbon emissions is generated by us generating energy and so this is what this device is all about. It’s about an attitude.


The five-inch Hymini collects wind and solar energy that feeds portable devices like cell phones.(Courtesy of Miniwiz)

GELLERMAN: How did you come up with this?

HUANG: The original idea was actually conceived when I was really frustrated as a real estate developer. My original training is as an architect. People always ask for green, but they don’t understand it. They really look at green as a label that they just stick onto a building. And now I think maybe it’s time to think of something much smaller.

GELLERMAN: Now, what is this thing? It’s kind of heavy, too. What is this? I don't have to carry this, do I?

HUANG: That’s actually a bicycle wheel. It’s like a bike hub, which is actually generating electricity while the bicycle is moving. So that also plugs into HYmini and it also charges the internal battery.

GELLERMAN: I basically am turning myself into a power-generating source.

HUANG: That’s exactly what we’re trying to do. You’re not just a power-generating source, you’re also a virus, for example, to contaminate others that you can be actively generating electricity on your daily routine.

GELLERMAN: You know, you could be walking around with your HYmini, you know, you can have your windmill and your solar collector, and you can have your armband. You’d be making a fashion statement. You should have a fashion show.

HUANG: We’re soon going to have a blog that’s on our website, and we're going to have a dog fashion show. We’re going to have a dog harness with a HYmini fastened on top of it.

GELLERMAN: So, you can walk your dog and charge your cell phone at the same time?

HUANG: Exactly, let them run in the park and they’re actually charging electricity.

GELLERMAN: Arthur Huang is the CEO of Miniwiz, which makes the HYmini. Arthur, thank you very much for coming in.

HUANG: Thank you very much, Bruce.

 

Links

The HYmini website

 

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