Luke Talbot created the My PowerBank to provide the homeless in London a means to charge their phones or other devices for free. It gets charged up using London’s Santander rental bikes.

The Central Saint Martins graduate created a working prototype with a 3D-printed shell and in a navy blue finish to blend in with the Santander bikes and with instructions printed in UV ink so they are visible in the dark. This portable charger features a small gear at the back designed to slot onto the chain of the bike. Talbot took advantage of the fact that even without paying to take one bike out of its parked state, the chain still moves when pedalled backwards.

Moving the chain will charge up the tiny-powered generator built inside the My PowerBank and the electricity produced in the process gets stored in the device’s internal batteries. In a sense, it’s mechanism is inspired by how an integrated dynamo like those used to run bike lights, can turn kinetic energy from pedalling into electricity. 

The movement of the chain spins the gear which spins the dynamo that charges the two lithium-ion batteries stored inside. It’s old technology that Talbot reformatted for a greater purpose. It’s the brain child of his research into how urban infrastructure could be hacked to benefit the homeless people. It was particularly inspired by the blow-up homeless shelters of American artist Michael Rakowitz, which are inflated using hot air vents from buildings.

The two batteries of the My PowerBank can hold up to four full charges. It only takes 25 minutes of back pedalling to fully charge a phone. Talbot is using his prize money from winning this year’s MullenLowe NOVA Awards to make the device production-ready and to cut down on the pedalling time per charge. He is hoping to partner with an NGO to source the product in bulk and distribute them to homeless shelters. 

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Images courtesy of Luke Talbot