Racking up nearly seventy percent of the $100,000 Kickstarter funding goal in just a week, the Epiphany onE Puck integrates the concept of the Stirling engine into a coaster-sized device that will charge smartphones over a USB connection. Rather than requiring the user to plug the device into an electrical outlet or a USB port on a computer, power is generated by applying a hot surface to the red side of the puck or a cold surface to the blue side of the puck. Specifically, it’s the perfect drink-sized shape for a steaming hot cup of coffee or an icy cold glass of lemonade. Conceptually, increased intensity of the hot or cold surface will generate more power.
According to the project details, the Epiphany onE Puck will charge all versions of the iPhone and iPod as well as all Android smartphones. Specifically, the puck will charge any mobile device that requires 1000 mA or less in power. Tablets and laptops won’t charge when using the puck due to larger power requirements, but the developer is considering larger versions of the device with greater power output.
Due to the working prototype phase of the device, Epiphany Labs hasn’t offered details on the amount of time the device will take to completely recharge a smartphone. It’s likely that figure will wildly vary based off the temperature of the surface being applied to the puck. It’s also highly unlikely that the Epiphany onE Puck will be able to charge a smartphone at the speed of a USB port on a computer or a traditional outlet.
However, the Epiphany onE Puck could be useful for travelers as it would allow users to power up their smartphone without having to search for an electrical outlet within an airport. The puck could also be taken out to restaurants or bars after work in order to generate a bit of power for a drained smartphone while enjoying a cold beer at the same time.
The working prototype of the Epiphany onE Puck has been designed to resist drink spillage, but the device certainly isn’t completely waterproof. Regarding the next step, Epiphany Labs plans to modify the design of the device to to tweak the internal engine as well as optimize the surface.
After finalizing the design, the company will start tooling up for production and order the raw materials to build the initial Kickstarter order. The group also plans on investing in marketing with the money collected from the Kickstarter backers.
While the first 250 backers jumped on the $99 version of the device, there are two remaining contribution levels at $115 for a base device and at $135 for an engraved version. However, backers shouldn’t expect to see the final version of the device until March 2014. Identical to the risk that comes with all Kickstarter projects, the timeline could be pushed beyond March 2014 due to manufacturing delays.