You’re sitting in a coffee shop, finishing a big project for work, running up on a deadline. Suddenly, you realize your laptop only has ten minutes of battery remaining. There are no outlets in sight, and your heart sinks–until you remember you packed your portable charger. Sighing with relief, you take the portable charger out of your bag, and finish the project on time.
Whether for work or play, portable chargers (also known as power banks) are a lifesaver when it comes to the battery life of your laptop, tablet, or phone. But how did they come to be? Who invented portable chargers, anyway? Read on to find out.
A Simple Circuit
The first power bank, like 99% of power banks today, was made in China. It was invented by a company called Pisen. This portable charger, though, was not created to stretch the minutes for your phone or computer. Instead, it was to increase the battery life of cameras. Why? Well, it all goes back to Antarctica.
A Chinese expedition team back in 2004 had a problem. They needed to use video cameras and other electronics during their trip, but in the extreme cold, the batteries drained at precipitous rates. Pisen realized that a much larger battery would be needed to store power to charge all the smaller batteries. And so, the first power bank, or portable charger, was born. At first, it was just two AA batteries connected by a simple circuit.
From this early design, however, portable chargers have come a long way. They now have a much longer battery life, and can even include special features such as handwarmers, headphone chargers, built-in lanterns, and more. For those who wish to go green, there are even solar chargers available. Read on to find out about some other innovative portable chargers and their inventors.
Young Inventors Who Invented Portable Chargers
Three high school students in Texas, David Wilkins, Jose Angel Acosta and Julian Sanchez, were tired of not being able to charge their phones on the school bus. So, they took a leaf out of Pisen’s book and came up with a simple portable charger using batteries, altoid tins, and wire components. How’s that for innovative?
The entrepreneurial teens have now sold many of their devices. Another teen, Eesha Khare, created a supercapacitor that can charge your phone on the go in only 30 seconds. Talk about convenience! With portable charger inventions like these coming from students who are still in high school, imagine what they will do one day in the workforce.
You’ve Got the Power
What if we could channel the energy from our own movement into charging our devices? This is the question that Tejas Shastry, Mike Geier and Alex Smith sought to answer while taking a course together at Northwestern University. They realized that all the energy from our daily movements would be a powerful source for a portable charger.
Running with this idea, they created AMPY. AMPY is small and lightweight, and can be worn with a clip or armband while walking or working out. For every 30 minutes of running, hour of cycling, or 10,000 steps of walking, AMPY can charge your phone for three hours. In short, if your phone is running low on your walk to work, every step will help to charge it back up.
Take It To Go
These days, it seems that everything is wireless. Wireless charging is more common with new phones than using a cable. Considering this, David Photien, Pascal Bosten, and Ralf Soukup created a portable wireless charger that adheres to your phone with suction cups to keep it from sliding around in your bag or pocket. Photien and Bosten came up with the idea while chatting in the airport and noticing they both had low phone batteries. The charger has no risk of getting unplugged like a traditional cabled charger, and the suction cups keep it all together.
With innovative ideas like these cropping up across the portable charger field, we can only imagine what the future will hold. Whether traditional or solar, plugged in or wireless, there is a portable charger available for every lifestyle and preference. Gone are the days of panicking over a dead battery ruining plans with friends or causing lost work. The many options for portable chargers ensure that these issues are a thing of the past.