Go ahead and get a little excited because that headline isn’t a misprint. Sam Beck, founder of Blueshift in Portland, Oregon, is out to change the portable speaker game with a bamboo-clad speaker he says will charge up to full capacity in five minutes and play for up to six hours at full volume. Has Beck developed some sort of ground-breaking next-gen battery? Nope. He’s just using something that’s been around for ages in a new way. But to make his idea fly, he’ll need your pledge.
Sam Beck and his Blueshift Helium speaker seek funding through Crowd Supply, a Crowdfunding site also based in Portland, Oregon. The Helium is a portable wireless speaker with a hand-made bamboo cabinet, digital amplifier, Bluetooth wireless input and either a single (mono) or dual (stereo) driver configuration. But what makes this speaker different than most others is that rather than relying on Lithium-ion or Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries that can wear out in a couple years, the Helium uses supercapacitors.
Supercapacitors sort of bridge a gap between standard capacitors and rechargeable batteries. They can store larger amounts of energy than standard capacitors, can be charged very quickly, and can discharge very quickly – but they don’t rely on the same nasty chemicals batteries do. They don’t store quite as much energy as batteries do, either. But it seems that Beck has managed to put together an amplifier and speaker combination that runs very efficiently, allowing four to eight supercapacitors to keep the speakers running at high volumes for hours on end.
To get his speaker out into the world, Beck needs to get the blessing of the FCC and lots of parts, both of which require money. The “pilot” versions of the Helium mono ($350) and Helium stereo ($500) are center stage in Blueshift’s bid for bread and will be the first to be hand made by Beck himself in his workshop, but there are other products available, too. The Capacitizer ($180) is a kit with most of what you’d need to build your own supercapacitor-powered speaker. Just add cabinet and driver. The Copper ($300 – $400) is an all-wired powered speaker with the beauty and sound of the Helium, but without the portability or Bluetooth connection. And if the pilot versions of the Helium are gone by the time you get to them, you can still get in on an early version of the Helium for $50 more than a pilot version.
We haven’t had a chance to audition the speakers ourselves yet, but we did stop by Blueshift’s headquarters and everything from the quality of the parts to the craftsmanship of the cabinetry looks excellent. We’ll be getting a review sample soon and will be offering a deeper look at Sam Beck and his Blueshift project soon. In the meantime, you can check out the video below for a closer look.