Gadgets for the Greener Good

The level of awareness on green issues in the consumer electronics industry has been raised significantly, due mostly to conversation-starters like the Greener Gadgets Conference. Building on last year’s inaugural runaway success, the event was an opportunity for designers, eco-conscious companies and all-out greenies to discuss energy consumption, recycling matters and carbon footprints ñ namely all the bones of contention associated with the electronic gadgets we have come to rely on.

The Greener Gadgets yearly competition is one way the industry can foster an interest in the development of more eco-efficient products. Run by Core77, the Consumer Electronics Association and Inhabitat, the competition challenges design companies, emerging hopefuls and keen green students to come up with a new generation of earth-friendly stuff’.

The brief requests that all inventions minimise impact on the environment. They could focus on a particular area of human enterprise, such as learning, playing or communicating; a specific context, such as work, home, school; or be made from sustainable materials. Entries could also come up with new paradigms for already operating products and services. All the ground-breaking designs were showcased at the Conference and judged by a panel of experts ñ but an audience clap-o-meter’ had the final say for the first, second and third prizes.

This year’s pioneering designs poured in from around the world and it was a tough job for the judges to narrow the top 50 projects down to 10 finalists. Products ranged from the practical to the futuristic, to the patently bizarre’ and included, for instance, a solar Venetian blind, an energy counting piggy bank and even a cardboard computer. ‘It’s not the prettiest PC in the room but it’s better than an ugly planet,’ commented Matt Buchanan, associate editor for the gadget blog, Gizmodo. There were also some hilarious off-the-wall ideas, such as the piezoelectric Jiggly Bed’, which converts energetic bedroom activities into power and a literal take on the tail light’ ñ a kinetically-charged light for your dog’s tail to ensure that he sparkles’ at night.

Winner of the Grand Prize, was the Tweet A Watt ñ a modified Kill A Watt power monitor. Along with monitoring how much electricity one is using, it also sends the figures out for others to see, providing an incentive to use less.

Congratulations go to Limor Fried, Adafruit Industries and Phillip Torrone for their winning device, to the Powerhog for second place and the Indoor Drying Rack for coming third, not to mention the other entrants for their inspirational planet-saving ideas.

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The Bug Plug prevents unnecessary energy consumption. Photo: © Greener Gadgets

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