Ever stuck in a difficult or urgent situation and your phone battery drained? What could have been done? At maximum, find a charging point in the vicinity which is never a sure shot idea but now with technology and innovation there exist an alternative. Just send a text message! Yes, people living off grid can simply charge their phones by sending a message.
Buffalo Grid, a London based company has come with the technology of solar powered phone charging station that gets triggered by a text message. The main aim of the company is to solve the problem of charging mobile devices in case of missing or remote power grid in the rural areas, particularly the developing worlds of Asia and Africa where the usage of cellphones has been on a constant rise.
“When you bring power to phones that don’t have any, people will use them more,” said Buffalo Grid’s Daniel Becerra.
Recently experimented in Uganda, the battery takes the power from the 60-watt solar panels through a method called maximum power point tracking (MPPT). However, the output is varying and depends upon the environmental conditions like the sun’s presence on the day, the amount of sunlight, temperature and the electronic circuits used in the panel. The technique MTTP keeps a track on these variables and modifies the resistance to ensure maximum output during any period.
How does the battery release and charge the phone? The user sends a text to the device which on receiving the message lights up the LED above a socket in the battery, showing that it can now charge the phone. A fully charged Buffalo Grid unit is capable to charge 30-40 phones everyday with 10 charging points installed. Such a unit can last for 3 whole days.
At a coffee cooperative in Uganda, each text is sufficient to charge a phone for almost 1.5 hours. Further, the company is trying to reduce the costs more by bringing in network providers to subsidize power and to even cut down the cost of the technology to zero.