From left: Surya Mattu and Robin Reid at the New York Top Makers Final Ceremony at New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). Team PowerClip won the competition. Photo credit: New York Economic Development Council (NYCEDC)
From left: Surya Mattu and Robin Reid at the New York Top Makers Final Ceremony at New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). Team PowerClip won the competition. Photo credit: New York Economic Development Council (NYCEDC)

This past month we had a special opportunity to send our prototype of the PowerClip to the Philippines with a UNICEF innovation in emergencies specialist to be tried out in UNICEF’s response to Typhoon Yolanda. Our hope was to get some real time user feedback of the product in the optimal situation.  As we work towards refining product features, this type of feedback is crucial. We were pleased to hear that our method of drawing power from a vehicle battery with a compact, portable, contained unit proved to be a great solution for response workers. We are looking forward to even more feedback that will inform our feature designs, so that for the next disaster, there will be no wait and the clips can be in the the hands of front line workers right away.

The PowerClip allows a compact unit that provides easy access to power in emergencies

We designed this product in Design for UNICEF class at New York University’s (NYU) Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where we were challenged to come up with design solutions that would improve the lives of adolescent girls and their families in Northern Uganda. Our team decided to focus on a solution that would ensure access to cheap, readily available, and always-on electric power. Why is this important for adolescent girls? Because in today’s world being safe and active requires light and communications.

As we were working on our challenge, NYC was struck by Hurricane Sandy and we found applications for our solution close to home as people were facing darkness and uncertainty. We witnessed the challenges that lack of power poses for first responders who are required to coordinate relief and evacuation efforts quickly and safely, and we developed our prototype.

The unit is light-weight, modular, and attaches to a battery so the power source can removed from a car or motorbike. This produces safe and efficient power that will charge any appliance through a USB port.

In the Rockaways, NY there were 100’s of stranded cars, and people searching power. One car battery could have charged up to 34 phones.

We think this product has global potential for resource strapped communities, and should become a must have item for first responders in emergency relief. For our UNICEF supported research period, we will be refining our product by doing materials research, manufacturing process research, as well as reaching out to a network of supporters, users and business experts to get our company to a place where we can be ready to go into production.

Robin Reid
Student of the NYU Design for UNICEF class 2012
thepowerclip(at)gmail.com

Read also:

Innovations in Emergencies Reporting from the Philippines – Days 7-12 that features the PowerClip and how it has helped in creating a solution to charge mobile phones from motorcycle batteries

Academia: Design for UNICEF

Design for UNICEF student project: Open source cellular network

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