Monday, July 27, 2009

Kenyans Use Pedal Power To Recharge Their Cellphones

BBC: Pedal power for Kenya's mobiles

Two Kenyan students are hoping to market a device that allows bicycle riders to charge their mobile phones.
Jeremiah Murimi, 24, and Pascal Katana, 22, said they wanted their dynamo-powered "smart charger" to help people without electricity in rural areas.
"We both come from villages and we know the problems," Mr Murimi told the BBC.
People have to travel great distances to shops where they are charged $2 a time to power their phone, usually from a car battery or solar panel.
"The device is so small you can put it in your pocket with your phone while you are on your bike," said Mr Murimi.
It is estimated that some 17.5 million people out of Kenya's 38.5 million population own a mobile handset - up from 200,000 in 2000.

We took most of [the] items from a junk yard
Pascal Katana

Young Malawian invents wind generator
Although similar devices already exist in other countries, they are not available in Kenya.
The two electrical engineering students from Nairobi University have been working on their own invention, which they are selling for 350 Kenyan shillings ($4.50) each, over the last few months during their university break.
In Kenya, bicycles are sold with a dynamo to be attached to the back wheel to power the lights.
The dynamo lead can be switched to plug into the charger instead, they explained.
Mr Katana explained it takes an hour of pedalling to fully charge a phone, about the same time it would if it were plugged into the mains electricity.
The BBC's Ruth Nesoba says after a short ride, the phone's battery display indicated that it was charging.
Guinea pigs
The cash-strapped students used old bits of electronic equipment for the project.
"We took most of [the] items from a junk yard - using bits from spoilt radios and spoilt televisions," said Mr Katana.

The dynamo is attached to the back wheel
Workers with bicycles at the campus were used as guinea pigs, including security guard David Nyangoro.
"I use a bicycle especially when I'm at home in the rural areas, where we travel a lot," he said.
"It's very expensive nowadays charging a phone. With the new charger I hope it will be more economical, as once you have bought it, things will be easier for you and no more expenses."
Mr Murimi says so far they have only made two chargers - but are making five more for people who have seen it demonstrated.
"And a non-government organisation in western Kenya wants 15 so they can test them out in rural areas to see how popular they prove," he said.
The two friends are about to start their fifth and final year at university in September.
"We are not planning to stop our studies," Mr Murimi said.
Kenya's National Council for Science and Technology has backed the project, and the students hope they will find a way of mass-producing the chargers.

Friday, July 24, 2009

African Americans Are Pace Setters In Wireless Internet Access

As an industry insider: "I am pleased with this news".

Compelling Applications + Wireless Communications + Location Based Services is where the vast amount of future activity and wealth creation will take place.

Pew: African Americans, Wireless Web's 'Pace Setters'

Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 22

African Americans’ use of mobile Web has more than doubled in the past several years, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on July 22. Not only are African Americans the most active users of the wireless Internet, but their use of the mobile Web is also growing the fastest.

While 32% of all Americans have accessed the Internet via a mobile device this year, African Americans’ mobile Web usage was far greater, reaching 48% of respondents, according to the study. That’s a huge, 141% jump from 2007, when only 12% of African Americans used the Internet on their mobiles on a given day. “Our data do show that African Americans are less likely to have laptop or desktop computers,” explains the study’s author, John Horrigan. “Given limited budgets, it seems that African Americans opt for cheaper devices, [such as cell phones] with a certain monthly fee, over items with large fixed outlays [such as PCs] that require a monthly outlay to an Internet Service Provider.”

While white Americans are still much more likely to go online using a computer, wireless connectivity clearly helps narrow the digital divide. On an average day, 61% of whites go online when mobile access is included, while 54% of African Americans do the same. A prior Pew study found that all Americans are becoming more interested in going online using their mobile devices.

The study found that wireless Internet use among the population as a whole has skyrocketed in the past two years. Laptops remain the most prevalent tool for accessing the mobile Web, but cell phones are quickly catching up. And people are starting to access the Web via new devices such as the Kindle e-book reader. The study is based on a survey of 2,253 adults.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blogging From 35,000 Feet

I am right now sitting on an Airtran flight.

They handed out free samples of their GoGo Inflight Internet service.

I whipped out my laptop to test it out.

It works pretty good.