The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has left more than 8 million people without power and without the ability to power up critical devices--including cell phones. Sure, there are rechargeable batteries and power inverters on the market to help you in a pinch, but they require the foresight to stock up ahead of time, and they aren't always reliable.
Fortunately, several tech companies are developing grid-free solutions for the times when you need quick, reliable access to alternative power sources.
For Cleveland-based Tremont Electronics, that alternative power source is your own body. Tremont makes the nPower PEG, or Personal Energy Generator, a small, wand-like device you can carry with you as you go about your day and your normal activities, such as walking, running, or biking. The nPower PEG converts the kinetic energy you generate into electricity that can immediately power smaller devices you hook it up to (think smartphones and MP3 players, not laptops and tablets).
CEO Aaron LeMieux originally came up with the idea for the nPower PEG while on a 1,500-mile hike on the Appalachian trail. It's the first product from Tremont, and at $200 a pop, it's much more expensive than simply picking up a rechargeable battery pack.
"You can get a standard rechargeable battery pack and throw it in your backpack and leave it there for a couple of months, but that battery pack will have drained itself by then," he says. "So while you think you have the security of this backup battery, that's really not the case."
Though LeMieux had active, outdoorsy types in mind as the nPower PEG's target audience, he recently ran into a customer who had ordered one for a personal hurricane disaster kit.
"We'd seen lots of orders going to California and Oregon, places where you knew there were lots of active outdoors people," he says. "But that's something we hadn't thought of before."
K-TOR's Pocket Socket hand crank power generator is another personal energy generator option that can handle slightly larger devices, such as tablets, but is still small enough to fit in your pocket. And because of its powerful 10-watt generator, the Pocket Socket charges your devices at the same rate as your standard household electrical outlet.
For the solar power enthusiasts, Fenix International has created the powerful ReadySet Solar Kit, funded via Kickstarter, and capable of powering up to 10 iPhones on a single charge. ReadySet can even fuel Wi-Fi hotspots. What's neat about the ReadySet is it allows you to harness energy from a variety of sources, including solar panels, bicycle generators, and micro-wind turbines.
If you're out of power (or need a temporary home) right now, check out SandyCrashPads, a service that matches up people who need places to stay with people who have available rooms.
[Image: Flickr user Skley]