We’ve been covering quite a few crowd funding projects in the last few months, for a good reason. This non-traditional funding method provides capital without leaving the company beholden to investors and shareholders. There may be some risk to those that pledge funds, but the reward is a company free to innovate, backed by people that share the same vision, rather than just being interested in a return on their dollar. So we’re giving some good press to those companies thinking outside the box, creating products that make our lives better, and improving the world. Sometimes we get lucky with a company that manages to do all three. Epiphany Labs is one such company.
Picture a well-connected group of really smart people. I mean, really smart. Now, imagine that they decide to use their collective brains to come up with products that change the world for the better. These are the same folks responsible for Epiphany Solar Water Systems, which is working to bring a low cost water purification solution to the two billion plus people around the globe without immediate access to safe drinking water. If your goals include “low cost” and your demographic is the poorest people on the planet, it’s a safe bet that you’re not motivated solely by profit.
So what’s their latest invention? The Epiphany onE Puck is a very simple device that utilizes technology first developed about 200 years ago to generate electricity. They’ve refined it a bit, but the principle is the same – Stirling engines can create electricity using temperature differentials. Epiphany squeezed that technology into their onE Puck, the result being that all you have to do is set your hot or cold drink on the appropriate side of the onE Puck, and you’ll generate enough electricity to recharge a cell phone or similarly sized device. Your morning coffee can top off your phone before heading into a long meeting, so you can play Angry Birds while someone runs their boring PowerPoint presentation. Spent all day texting, and your phone is low after work? Order an icy cold beer at the sushi bar, and set it on your onE Puck to recharge. It’s really that easy to use, provided you have the smarts to work a USB cable.
I did mention that Epiphany Labs isn’t in business of creating cool gadgets just to sell cool gadgets though. There’s a large portion of the earth’s population that spends their days just trying to survive: Walking to a well for clean water. Gathering wood for a fire to cook on. Farming or hunting in order to have enough for their daily meals. And while that simplistic lifestyle is not necessarily a bad thing, Epiphany aims to shift their lives from one of merely surviving to one where they can instead make a meaningful contribution to their society. That doesn’t mean turning poor villagers into factory workers. Instead, it can lead to lower infant mortality rates, and better educational opportunities for families that are currently too busy trying to make it from one day to the next. Funding for this project will go towards final product development, which serves two purposes. One, it gets the unit into production, which will generate income for future products. Two, the knowledge gained during the testing and manufacturing can be applied on a larger scale to take this from a first world convenience item to a life-changing resource in third world countries. And that’s kind of a big deal.
To read more, or back this project, head over to their kickstarter page.