Sony shows off concept hand-powered gadgets for kids

A hand-powered digital camera and other gadgets for kids

Sony has developed a hand-powered digital still camera prototype envisaged for children in developing countries where electricity or batteries might not always be readily available.

The device is the first working concept to come from Sony Design's "odo" project that is attempting to come up with kinetically-powered devices that stimulate a child's creativity, curiosity and energy.

The camera prototype is styled after a flower.

Imagine a magnifying glass with a large hole through the middle of the glass and you've got the shape. The camera is held by the handle and the image sensor and other related electronics are also packed in there. The ring on the end is where the energy is generated. By running it along a table top an outer ring spins and charges up an internal battery. After a few pushes it's ready to take a picture.

When the picture is taken the camera can be placed in a USB cradle styled like a flower-pot (of course) and transferred to a PC.

The Odo project got its start at Sony's design center in Los Angeles and a team in Tokyo is also working on ideas.

"It grew from trying to figure out how these people's children will be able to enjoy music and video," said Mitsuhiro Nakamura, a member of the sustainable design team at the Sony Creative Center. "They don't have electric power so we have to think about how to generate electricity. So we started looking at electricity generation from kinetic energy. So we came up with these Odo products that children can enjoy."

Non-working design concepts already shown include a video camera that is powered by a crank on the side of its body, a second digital camera that is powered by sticking fingers through two holes in the body and spinning the camera end-over-end, a photo viewer with a roller on the base to generate power and a pair of stereo headphones with built in radio that is charged when a cord is pulled from the ear piece.

If this is all too much effort, a final concept is a solar-charged battery that can be used to power Odo devices when it's been charged in the sun.

The work revolves around a single question: How can Sony set a good example through socially responsible product models? Sony says the concepts developed so far represent one answer to that question.

There are no plans to commercialize the prototypes.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

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