Photo: UC Berkeley
Rocking chairs are already supercomfortable, but what if they could do more than just provide your rump with a nice resting spot? What if a rocking chair could … charge your smartphone?
Well wonder no more, because a handful of students at UC Berkeley has created just that, a rocking chair that can actually rock up your smartphone’s battery.
How does it work? Well, according to Popular Science, the chair, called the Volta, is fitted with a special pendulum that swings back and forth as you rock. The pendulum generates energy, which is then stored in a battery.
To charge your phone, you just plug it into the chair’s USB port and let your gentle sways juice it up.
The student creators, who include Matthew Cheung, Jessica Chiu, Julia Solano, and Nick Firmani, developed Volta as part of a class at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, a post by UC Berkeley on Futurity.org explains.
According to the students, the chair is about as efficient as a regular wall outlet. So theoretically this piece of furniture can provide faster charging times than one of those portable solar chargers, or even your laptop’s USB port, both of which can take forever to top off your handset’s battery.
Despite the obvious genius of the Volta, the project didn’t begin as an eccentric way to charge your phone. The student creators originally wanted to make a chair that encourages people to move, a device aimed at reducing the health effects of sitting too long. The team experimented with adding a display to the chair that would show you how much energy you generated while rocking. You would then try to beat your high score every time you sat down.
They also thought about using the energy stored in the chair to make it rock by itself, as if a ghost was moving it. But when early testers kept asking the Volta team, “Hey, where’s the plug to charge my phone?” the new direction of the project became apparent.
So when can you buy the Volta? Well, it turns out adding a pendulum and battery pack to a chair packs on a significant amount of weight (about 80 pounds), which makes the Volta pretty unwieldy.
What’s more, the students say they aren’t interested in marketing the Volta, which is kind of disappointing. But hey, the technology is out there. So we could all be charging our phones with rocking chairs in the near future.
So long as Silicon Valley doesn’t just end up sitting on this gold mine of an idea, that is.