The Ampware case is the brainchild of Mark Gabriel, who found himself without power after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005. Luckily, Gabriel did have a radio that could be charged using a built-in hand crank, which proved invaluable for keeping up with the latest news and monitoring the relief efforts in the wake of the hurricane’s passing. But his cell phone ran out of power after a day or two, rendering it useless. It was during that time that he came up with the concept of using a hand crank to recharge a smartphone, and later he would partner with friend Erik Durr to design a solution that would make this idea a reality. It was then that the Ampware was born.
Made from a tough polycarbonate shell designed to keep the iPhone safe from accidental drops, the Ampware appears at first glance to be just like any one of the other hundreds of cases available for Apple’s smartphone. But on the back of the case, you will find both a kickstand for propping it up and a fold-out crank that can be turned to generate power. Just like the the radio that Gabriel used in the days following Hurricane Katrina, spinning that crank for five minutes creates enough juice to power the iPhone for an hour. And when you’re done, you simply fold the crank back into position, snapping it into place and out of the way until you need it again. This way, you can keep your iPhone running indefinitely without ever having to plug it into an outlet.
The Ampware is capable of generating up to 1,000 mAh of power and transfers it to the iPhone via the standard eight-pin lightning connector. That makes it perfect for backpackers, frequent travelers, or anyone else who finds themselves away from a power outlet on a regular basis but still needs to be able to keep their smartphone running. The case actually generates more consistent power than a solar panel for instance and eliminates the need for carrying a USB battery pack, which would require a recharge of its own at some point as well. In theory, you could conceivably hit the trail without even carrying a charging cable, provided you don’t mind turning the crank on a regular basis.