In the world of electronics, chargers have always been second string — so insignificant that they’re unofficially known as “that thing you forget to pack when you go on vacation.”
But an intelligent new charger that you can control with your iPhone called Powerslayer Blu might just change all that.
Made by Velvetwire, a new “smart energy” company based in Santa Cruz, California, the Powerslayer Blu is designed to make charging your gadgets quicker and more energy efficient. It works like your normal phone charger: A simple wall unit (funkily designed) plugs into your wall; you attach one end of a special USB cord into the unit and the other to your phone.
That’s where the similarities end, though. The wall unit of the Powerslayer contains a microprocessor that recognizes when a gadget has reached its full charge, to save you energy, and it has a few other special parts designed to eliminate wasted power and speed up the replenishing process.
The Powerslayer Blu has the ability to choose between a “boost-mode” setting that chargers your gadget faster (though with less energy efficiency) or an “eco-mode” to minimize the power used to charge (though that goes a little slower).
As you charge, you can control the process via a Bluetooth-connected iOS app, which illustrates your current power levels, lets you turn on or off the charger from across the room, sends alerts about your gadget’s charging status, shows your battery use over time, and even allows you to compete with other Powerslayer users to see who’s using the least power.
There’s also a neat feature that lets you choose a charging target: So, if you’re about to leave the house and you’re low on battery, you can tell the charger to just power-boost you up to 50 percent charge as fast as it can.
The co-founders of Velvetwire, the company that produces the Powerslayer, are the husband-wife team of Eric Bodnar and Jennifer Lee. The pair, having created and sold two successful startups, set out for a two-year journey on a sailboat. With limited access to energy, it became apparent to them that the world could use more energy-efficient contraptions. And so, when they settled in back in San Francisco, they set out to develop a charger that might help.
The first item to come out of the new company was the Powerslayer, a well-designed, American-manufactured $39 charger made in seafarer-friendly colors of coral, fathom, hull, and marine. Even the included USB cord is aquatic, fitted in a patterned cover reminiscent of boat ropes.
For the second edition of the Powerslayer, Velvetwire was inspired by Apple. In June, Apple announced HomeKit, a new suite of software that would let i-device owners control certain connected electronic devices from a centralized app.
“That was really the moment that changed it for us,” Bodnar told Yahoo Tech. “Starting in June we went as fast as we could, building Bluetooth low energy and HomeKit into the Powerslayer.” (That’s not all, either: The team is also working on a USB charging station and a minimalist connected lamp.)
We haven’t gotten a chance to try the Powerslayer Blu; when it becomes available, we’ll let you know how well it works. The whole package will go on sale sometime this winter for $89. If you want to get on board before then, you can look for updates on the Velvetwire website.