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By Jody McCutcheon
Every year heralds several wondrous new inventions, or the tweaking of one, and 2013 was no exception. From solar powered BBQs to iPhone controlled heating systems, the past year introduced some gadgets that can help us all make 2014 a bit greener.
Here’s my pick of the Top 10 Eco Gadgets we covered over the past year.
1. Hovding “Invisible Bike Helmet”
You’ll need a helmet to wear while riding your e-bike. The Hovding “invisible” helmet is an airbag-like hood for cyclists, operating on an algorithm that discerns between normal and non-normal (i.e., potentially accident-inducing) cycling. Worn around the neck, the Hovding helmet deploys when the bicycle engages in non-normal behavior, like a severe wobble or sudden pitch, covering the head in what is essentially an airbag before impact. The Hovding is waterproof, ergonomic and fashionable, with the option of different enclosing shells to match your cycling outfit.
From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, and all through the night, your house will be the temperature you want it to be. The Nest thermostat learns your temperature preferences and moderates itself accordingly. It also knows when you’re away, and turns down the heat. Nest allows for remote, wifi control from a smartphone, tablet or laptop. It’ll help you save on energy bills–the $250 price tag will be offset in two years of energy saving–and it’ll reduce your carbon footprint.
3. SolSource BBQ
Hints of summer are always welcome in the thick of winter, making the SolSource BBQ an ideal Christmas gift. The SolSource is a four-foot-wide solar panel shaped like a satellite-dish pizza missing a slice. It allows you to grill, bake, broil, steam or fry your food. No fossil fuels are used–SolSource is emission- and carcinogen-free, as well as 100% recyclable and sustainably manufactured. Indeed, SolSource claims that every unit purchased offsets the carbon footprints of four Americans, so whether you give or receive the SolSource, you’re still giving.
4. Vers 1Q Bluetooth Speakers
Don’t let the small size fool you. Vers 1Q Bluetooth speakers may be small, but they deliver big, warm sound. A 3” hand-made wooden cube houses a 2”, 6.5W speaker, offering a range of thirty feet and ten hours of battery life. Pair two together and the sound automatically switches from mono to stereo. Integrated Bluetooth version 2.1 links the Vers speaker to any nearby smartphone, laptop or tablet. Best of all, for every tree used to make the speakers, Vers will plant 100 trees. Talk about sustainable sound!
5. Bedol Water Clock
By virtue of its size (4.5” x 3.5”), the Bedol Water Clock is a perfect clock to travel with. Fill it with water–remembering to refill it every three months or so–and tell time without batteries or electricity. The technology converts ions in the water into clean energy that powers the clock. A built-in memory chip remembers the time so you never have to reset it. Take advantage of a daily or hourly alarm. And it comes in a variety of colours from which to choose.
6. FlyKly Smart Wheel
FlyKly Smart Wheel is a pedal assist device that encases an ultra-thin electric motor and intelligent electronics that can be neatly fitted onto the spokes of a bicycle rim and helps use your bike more efficiently and comfortably for long distances. The Smart Wheel is also equipped with a useful FlyKly App, designed for Android and iOS, that provides information on the route and speed of your cycling. The FlyKly App constantly monitors the Smart Wheel components and functionality: in case anything happens or goes wrong, the FlyKly team is ready to find a solution. It seems E-biking isn’t just getting more popular; it’s getting smarter, too.
7. PowerTrekk Phone Charger
We’ve all experienced the frustration of not being able to charge our phones when there’s no socket nearby. When travelling, sometimes even when there is a plug, we don’t have a converter. Solar chargers are great–when there’s sun! PowerTrekk is a water based phone charger that uses a fuel cell technology that turns hydrogen into electricity, no sun or electricity needed. This little beauty allows you to charge your phone anywhere–just add water.
8. K3 Wind and Solar charger
Yet another innovative charger, the K3 Wind and Solar device uses solar and wind energy to create clean electricity to charge devices without the need of a power socket. The solar panel collects power from the sun and if you happen to be in a cloudy area, just put the fan upwind and it will continue to work.
9. Voltaic Solar Backpack
Students, campers and eco-warriors can now carry solar power with them wherever they go thanks to the Voltaic Solar Backpack. The gadget can charge cell phones, iPads, cameras, or any number of devices. Not only will it charge by solar power, it can also be plugged into a USB port for alternate charging.
10. BioLite Camp Stove
This ultimate eco friendly camping gadget lets you cook up some grub AND charge your phone while you do so. It works by using the energy from burning wood and converting it into electricity, which can then charge your phone. All you need to do is gather some dry twigs and light them in order to cook some food in the BioLite pot and then you can charge not only your phone, but any gadget, including LED lights, cameras or even an iPad, making camping all that more sophisticated.