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Technology & Innovation

Universal Battery Charger Fits Any Gadget

A USB charger for lithium-ion batteries has been developed with Uganda in mind so that locals can become one-stop electricity providers, but you can use it on your devices, too.

What’s the Latest Development?

A new lithium ion battery charger, developed by Fenix International and currently being demonstrated at the Aspen Ideas Festival, is designed with two small metal contact points that can clip onto almost any lithium-ion battery. “The charger can plug into any computer or USB wall adapter, but Fenix designed it specifically to be plugged into the ReadySet, an all-in-one ‘intelligent battery’ that can take in power from a variety of sources (bicycle generator, solar, the grid), store and smooth it, then spit it back out to charge phones or other appliances.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Because the new battery charger is cordless, an entrepreneur could, in any place where mobile devices are abundant but power is scarce, be sure that he or she can charge most phones without carrying around a ton of little adapters. What fascinates Alexis Madrigal about the charger is that, while it was designed for electricity-poor countries, it may prove handy for Western customers as well: “As more and more entrepreneurs start to focus their efforts outside the O.E.C.D. countries, I think we’re due for a lot more of this kind of cross-pollination.”


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