Potenco's Latest Pull-Cord Power Generator - Wired Video
Video: Potenco's Latest Pull-Cord Power Generator
A couple of weeks ago, we headed out to Potenco's amazing headquarters at the decommissioned Alameda Naval Base to check out their power generator for the developing world.
It looks a bit like a yo-yo, and generates an average of 25 watts of power in normal operation. That's enough to power twenty minutes of cellphone talk time with just one minute of pulling.
Their engineering feats could ultimately enable millions in the developing world to access information through their cellphones and internet devices, and light their homes with smoke-free lanterns. Now all they have to do is get them out into the field.
One proprietary thing we couldn't show you was the Potenco cord testing room, where a Rube-Goldberg looking machine put dozens of types of strings through thousands of simulated yanks and pulls.
Nicholson Baker envisioned such a machine in his book, The Mezzanine, but for shoelaces, not power generators. We echo his thoughts on the relationship between finding the right strings and civilization's advance: "He had constructed a machine and strapped hundreds of shoelaces of all kinds into it, wearing them down over and over, in a passionate effort to get some subtler idea of the forces at work... Progress was being made. Someone was looking into the problem."
Enjoy the video! Thanks to Potenco (especially Mike Lin and Colin Bulthaup) for letting us come out and Michael Lennon and Annaliza Savage here at Wired for putting it together.