All plug-in electronics use the same power cord, and all battery-operated devices use one of a few standard sizes. Even computer accessories mostly all have USB capabilities. So why not standardize rechargeable batteries for all cell phones and other mobile gadgets?
That's the idea from Theo Richardson, Charles Brill, and Alex Williams of Rich, Brilliant, Willing. Their standardized battery concept, called the Green Cell, won third place at the recent Greener Gadgets Competition. Most importantly, the Green Cell isn´t made from toxic chemicals and could be partially recycled to reduce landfill waste.
The designers say that the battery could either be recharged from home or at public charge stations. When the batteries eventually wear out, they could be exchanged for a fresh battery at a local vending machine that doubles as a recycling center. Every time you buy a new gadget or upgrade your cell phone, you wouldn't have to toss out your old charger and battery, but could simply reuse them with your new device.
Currently, manufacturers use different batteries and chargers for just about every make and model of phone and personal electronic device. Manufacturers may not be overly excited about configuring every gadget to the size and voltage of the standardized Green Cell. But, the Green Cell designers say that the benefits could help everyone.
"Agreeing to adopt a handful of constraints doesn't hurt one's marketing campaign; rather, it's a new opportunity for a new business model," they explain. "It´s a more responsible approach, and we'll all live a little more happily ever after."
Rich, Brilliant, Willing suggested another interesting idea at the Greener Gadgets Competition: "nutrition" labels for gadgets. The standardized label would disclose all the material contents of the gadget, including the amounts of heavy metals used. They hope that the label would provide the public with the knowledge to make greener purchases and encourage manufacturers to use healthier manufacturing processes and materials.
More information: Rich, Brilliant, Willing