Ampy is a cool new wearable device that turns your body movement into energy that can charge your smartphone. The new device from three Northwestern University students harnesses kinetic energy to give your smartphone as much as three hours of additional battery life in a day.
The Chicago-based startup has created a compact device that can be strapped to someone’s arm, leg, or hip. It can be carried inside a backpack or messenger bag, and it charges anytime it detects movement. You can plug a smartphone into Ampy to restore its battery power. The heart of the device is something called a linear inductor.
“A typical day of walking — about 8,000 to 10,000 steps — gives you another three hours of smartphone battery life, and if you add another 30-minute workout that day, you’ll get around six additional hours,” said Tejas Shastry, CEO of the Chicago-based startup, in a statement.
The founders have launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000 in order to launch their product.
Shastry started the company with Mike Geier, the startup’s technical head, and Alex Smith. All three are doctoral candidates in engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
“We developed all of the proprietary architecture for the internal conductor inside Ampy. It’s an area that we had to invest significant prototyping hours towards and equipment to create. The result is a product completely unique to the wearable space,” Geier said.
“You don’t need to be an athlete,” he said in a video. “Any motion will charge it.”
It’s also green energy. You can use the Ampy smartphone app to check how much energy you’ve generated from your device — and how many calories you’ve burned — by moving around.
Ampy’s founders have gotten help from two accelerator programs — Northwestern’s incubator at the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and downtown Chicago’s 1871 accelerator program. They have also received a service grant from custom manufacturing firm Proto Labs in Maple Plain, Minn. Proto Labs gave Ampy its “Cool Idea!” award. Proto Labs is providing tooling and a low-volume production run using injection molding for the plastic Ampy clip and its housings.
“Wearable devices are playing an increasingly more important role in daily life,” said Proto Labs founder, Larry Lukis, in a statement. “Ampy embodies the spirit of the wearable segment with its effortless user integration, but it simultaneously offers an environmentally friendly kinetic alternative to wall chargers.”
Shastry said the company plans to launch Ampy in early 2015. The team started work on the idea in 2013.