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NAIROBI, Kenya – Alongside the slew of phone releases today comes an altogether different product. One that is arguably as important as any of them, if not more so, although it may not sound so significant on first impressions. It’s the Nokia Bicycle Charger Kit.

You’ve undoubtedly come across bicycle dynamo products that charge the lights, this one charges your phone as you ride.

In brief

  • Nokia Bicycle Charger Kit
  • Guarantees charge
  • Environmentally friendly

So why’s that so important?

There’s two angles to this. The first is that the product is initially aimed at emerging markets. Places where electricity may be scarce, unreliable or expensive. Making it possible for a bicycle to charge a phone creates the difference between the chance of being able to communicate and the guarantee. In many areas, a bicycle-powered charging service might create a sustainable micro-business for some individuals.

The second angle is that this looks a lot greener than plugging your charger into the wall. While Nokia’s chargers have now largely put paid to the peril of unattended charging (see yesterday’s Eco Profiles post), not plugging in at all is more than 100% more environmentally friendly. It might also encourage owners to exercise, to boot.

So it’s an interesting product: it plugs an unfortunate gap in developing nations, and maybe earns a number of plucky cyclists the means to earn a living. In the West, it’s more of an environmental sell, enabling eco-conscious urbanites to feel virtuous about their phone usage.

Personally, I’m looking forward to kinetically-powered phones, a bit like automatic watches that just need an occasional shake to survive.