(Batteriser prototypes. Credit: Yahoo Makers)
This tiny new $2.50 gadget could revolutionize the battery industry, save consumers millions, and make a big dent in the amount of junk dumped in landfills each year.
Emphasis on the word could.
The cheap, reusable device, called the Batteriser, promises to extend the life of any regular disposable AA or C cell by up to 800 percent. It first made headlines last month, and its creators are launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign today to raise cash and build buzz.
Original Story on Yahoo Makers: No Joke: New $2.50 Gadget Makes Batteries Last 8 Times Longer
Ahead of the Indiegogo launch, CEO Bob Roohparvar talked exclusively to Yahoo Makers about the product, its potential, and the harsh backlash it’s already provoked online.
“We basically have the ability to get the remaining energy that’s left in the battery … we tap it, we harness it and let people use it,” says Roohparvar, a former CEO at FlexPower who holds a PhD in electronic engineering.
As with any potentially game-changing product, time will tell if it lives up to the hype. But there are lots of reasons to hope the Batteriser will.
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The Batteriser is a tiny sleeve that fits over a normal disposable battery. It works by tapping into the unused energy in a regular Duracell or Eveready. A normal AA or C cell is designed to deliver a steady 1.5 volts, but as the power is depleted the voltage will drop. Once it slips too low, your Xbox controllers, Bluetooth keyboards, and other devices will stop working, even though there is still some power left in the cell.
But with a Batteriser fitted over the battery, the voltage is boosted back up to a healthy 1.5 volts and your gadget keeps chugging. And you can reuse the $2.50 gadget over and over.
Roohparvar says his company, called Batteroo, expects to ship the product this October or November.
He brought two prototypes to Yahoo Makers to demonstrate. A regular Apple Bluetooth keyboard showed 2 percent left in its two AA batteries. Roohparvar popped the two Batterisers over the batteries and put them back in, and lo and behold, the computer said those same batteries were at 100 percent.
(Batteriser. Credit: Yahoo Makers)
In your hand, the Batterisers feel delicate but not flimsy, especially when they’re attached to a battery. They fit snugly in the battery compartment but didn’t seem so tight that they would cause problems.
Lots of Potential
If the Batteriser lives up to the company’s claims, its potential is indeed huge. The battery industry is a multibillion business. Every year billions of disposable batteries are tossed in the garbage, but that number could drop sharply if it becomes easy to extend their life dramatically. And impoverished and remote spots could benefit hugely from regular batteries that suddenly last much, much longer.
[Update: The company met its modest initial $50,000 Indiegogo goal.]
Roohparvar started the company with his brother, Frankie, also a successful electronics industry executive and inventor, after a conversation about a dead flashlight spurred their imagination.
(Batteriser. Credit: Batteroo)
“We said, ‘This is a great opportunity to start a business,’” says Roohparvar. They’ve spent the last three years refining their innovative way to miniaturize long-established voltage boost technology. He says they chose to go the startup route because they didn’t want the industry to squash the device’s potential.
“I didn’t want this product to be killed. I wanted to get to the market. I wanted people to enjoy saving money. I wanted the environment to benefit,” he says.
Backlash and Skepticism
As soon as details about the Batteriser appeared last month, online critics insisted basic engineering principles showed it could never live up to the company’s claims. Many anonymous commenters blasted it as egregious marketing hype or even an outright scam.
Their main complaint is that most gadgets are already very good at slurping most of the juice out of their batteries, leaving little untapped potential for the Batteriser to mine.
An engineering-focused YouTube channel called EEVBlog devotes a detailed, 38-minute video to assessing the Batteriser. The host tests a series of gadgets, showing they still function even when the voltage drops well below the ideal 1.5 volts, and concludes the Batteriser could possibly offer a 20 percent improvement in some cases, but nowhere near 800 percent.
“They’re technically right in some of things they say and what they’re doing here, and their product is going to work in some very specific circumstances,” the host says in the video.
But, “it’s mostly marketing spin.”
Roohparvar says the reaction is frustrating but not surprising.
“There are a lot of people that like to get a headline.”
Discussing the EEVBlog video, he says: “I think he’s a good guy. I think he just didn’t know enough.”
Roohparvar says the critics ignore the differences in internal resistance between a battery and the equipment used to test voltages. And he says just because a gadget can still turn on at 1.2 volts doesn’t mean it’s functioning properly or wouldn’t benefit substantially from running at 1.5 volts. He insists that speculation about safety risks are similarly confused.
He also cites research by battery companies (like this Duracell video) and data from Rolf Zinniker, a Swiss professor of electrical engineering, who tested “dead” batteries and found they really did have lots of power left.
And Roohparvar notes that all his online detractors are speculating about a device they haven’t actually tried out yet.
“They haven’t seen this thing, for God’s sake.”
Critics stand by their skeptical conclusions and note that no independent experts have tested the Batteriser yet.
The company acknowledges it will take independent tests (which it says are coming) and the experience of regular people to win over the public. “Up to 800 percent” is an eye-catching number, but Roohparvar says his product will work differently in different circumstances with different devices.
That eye-catching 800 percent improvement has been realized on some devices, Roohparvar says, but perhaps more importantly, his company has seen enough dramatic improvement in general to make the product worthwhile to regular consumers. “A golf GPS ran out in 2 hours,” he says. “We put the Batteriser on and it runs over 10 hours. That’s 5 times!”
Trouble With Our Test
Yahoo Makers was only able to try out the Batteriser briefly in our offices.
After Roohparvar successfully demonstrated the Batteriser prototype in his Apple keyboard, we tried it out in a regular flashlight and in a Bluetooth mouse. This time, though, it failed to make contact and power the devices. Roohparvar thought the positive tip wasn’t quite lined up where it needed to be and said the production version would be much more resilient. He offered to give Yahoo Makers another unit to test soon.
Roohparvar’s explanation seemed benign, but it might give the skeptics more fuel.
In the end, of course, neither the company’s claims nor the doubters’ blogs and YouTube videos will determine the true potential of the Batteriser. But once regular customers get to try it out, we will know if a revolution in battery technology has really arrived.
Roohparvar is convinced.
“This is a disruptive technology. This is a breakthrough technology. We believe it’s going to make a difference in people’s lives.”