Ampy: A New Way to Recharge Your Devices

October 9, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget


Think for a moment about the device you’re reading this on, a phone probably but maybe a tablet.  If you get your notifications from the wrist instead of a tray, you should hear this too.  Ever heard of the Eco-Drive watch from Citizen?  No, it’s not a smartwatch, and it just tells you the time.  But the big deal with it is that it uses the movement of your wrist and arms, the kinetic energy, to charge and recharge its battery instead of dying on you on your way to a meeting you cannot be late for because the battery is just a little button cell.  That idea, the physically rechargeable battery, has been done in a couple of different ways, but its only been applied to normal, common things in life like watches and flashlights.  Want something that does the same thing, but can charge your smartwatch, Android Wear, Pebble, or otherwise, or your phone when it’s running low *cough cough Nexus 5 cough*?  Listen to this one name: Ampy.

Yeah, it sounds a little silly and whimsical, like it would belong to a cute little battery-related thing online.  I know.  But it’s much more than that.  It’s a new ‘wearable’ (as in you wear it, not that it does much of anything itself or alone) from Mike Geier, Tejas Shastry, and Alex Smith and their new startup by the same name (Ampy, that is).  The concept is simple: attach to your body or carry it with you so it feels your movement(s), use a USB cord to connect it so something, then charge that device using the energy generating by you moving about as you usually would.  Simple, right? It gets better because we can get our hands on it thanks to the company heading to Kickstarter to get the last $100,000 to manufacture and mass-produce this kinetic battery pack.  I would say ‘that’s all, go check it out’, but let’s get into it together.

So, all I have to do is move and be active, and I get rewarded with more battery to offer my devices?  That’s the idea, friend.  According to a chart on Ampy’s Kickstarter page, an hour of cycling (like to and from work perhaps?) gets you enough Ampy battery to charge and boost your smartphone by around three hours, a smartwatch like Pebble an extra day, and a fitness tracker like a FitBit an extra three days of battery life.  Madness!  And it also related a walking day of about 10,000 steps to an hour of cycling, as well as a half-hour run.  So, it’s that easy. The battery, once you charge it, doesn’t deplete within minutes, as some kinetic things do.  Instead, Ampy can hold your hard-earned charge for months, and can store about a week’s worth of battery charging within itself.  Is it just a battery? No, not quite.  It does charge itself then your device (at the output of a wall outlet, by the way), but how can you track the fillage of your Ampy throughout the day?  The companion app.  The Ampy app allows you to check the charge level of your Ampy, and it (since it doesn’t say directly) likely connects via Bluetooth 4.0/LE (Low Energy) to relay that information, but only when it needs to (i.e. you check the app for it).  It also tracks your calories burned while charging your Ampy.  Currently, the app requires manual input of these things and informations, but the team are looking to send it directly to the smartphone in the future.  And the best part is, you don’t need to have the app to use Ampy, like at all.

So, this is where we come in.  The customers, the backers, the supporters.  Or, we could kill this project and lose the ingenuity of it to the wind in a month.  I’m not going to say ‘back this, back this NOW’, even though I might myself after digging into it.  But I will say, if you’re interested in extending battery life and have an active life (or want to start one *wink*) then look into it.  The lowest price tier as of right now is the $75 tier and it is the early backer lever, snagging you an Ampy and the outlet-freedom you might desire (or simply benefit from).  Next are the $85 and $95 tiers, and they’re the same thing (and $95 will be the retail price of the device, so it’s a deal).  Interested in this new way of charging electronics?  Does it seem like something we need more of in the industry of power we have riding in our pockets, satchels, and purses?  Go check out their Kickstarter page in the source, and let us know down below.