From harnessing the human power of people working out at the gym to outdoor speakers made from sustainably sourced materials, there were plenty of products and prototypes launched or showcased at the CES, or Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, demonstrating how technology can be more sustainably designed, energy efficient or energy productive – using less energy to do more. I even discovered an innovative bee hive prototype that might just help the struggling honey bee populations.
Many companies and businesses serving the transportation industry continue to move toward all-electric mobility products and plug-in electric vehicles. But some gadgets revealed at the world’s largest consumer electronics show showcased how materials could be more sustainably sourced and how technology can save energy, cut carbon emissions and, in the end, save money, too.
Best Portable Outdoor Speaker: No Bounds XL speaker from The House of Marley
This is the perfect speaker for homesteaders and farmers – and anyone who loves spending time outdoors with their music. Portable, versatile, stylish and sustainable, the great-sounding No Bounds XL Bluetooth speaker from The House of Marley exemplifies how all products should be designed. Materials for the ecologically-minded approach to these crafted speakers include House of Marley’s signature REGRIND silicone, REWIND fabric that’s made from 100-percent recycled plastics (rPET), recyclable aluminum, and sustainably harvested cork. The durable, lightweight cork is naturally antimicrobial and impermeable to water, allowing both vibration dampening and floatation. It’s no surprise that the No Bounds XL speaker earned the 2019 CES Innovations Award for Sustainability and Eco-Design from the Consumer Technology Association.
The waterproof (IP67), dust proof and buoyant No Bounds XL speaker has a 16-hour battery life – even serving as a power bank for smartphones or other USB powered electronic devices. The high-performance speaker has a clip-able carabiner, making it easy to attach to a fence, trellis or gazebo rail. Quick charge takes just two hours. There’s even a built-in mic which offers speakerphone capability and Siri integration.
As the first FSC® Certified consumer electronics brand within the United States, The House of Marley’s product lines, including the new No Bounds XL speaker, feature up-cycled fabrics, recycled silicone and plastics, FSC certified woods and completely recyclable packaging. Even some proceeds from the sales of their products are donated to One Tree Planted for reforestation conservation efforts.
Generating Electricity While Working Out at a Gym: Verde Treadmill from SportsArt
If you’re like my family and I, you might work out at a local gym during the off-season so you keep fit enough for the physical demands of the growing season. We’d love to be able to let our hard work and sweat on a treadmill or stationary bicycle put more electricity back onto the grid. Finally, it can. SportsArt, a leader in sustainable gym equipment that produces energy when used, launched the world’s first energy-producing treadmill, the Verde. It’s in their ECO-Powr line which uses an electromagnetic and mechanical braking system to generate electricity during a workout. The ECO-Powr line also includes several kinds of exercise bicycles, ellipticals and 3-in-1 cross trainers. Next step is to get our local YMCA to switch over to SportsArt when replacing aging equipment.
Designed for gym clubs, YMCAs or fitness centers, SportsArt’s ECO-Powr line of exercise equipment allows businesses or organizations to purchase green products that help reduce energy use and become more efficient. Their ECO-Powr line cost about as much as the comparable, standard exercise equipment on the market. “We took the treadmill, a staple in fitness, and incorporated a revolutionary technology that would not only reduce energy consumption, but actually produce it,” said Ivo Grossi, CEO of the Americas for SportsArt, in a release.
Built-in micro inverters harness the human energy being created. The energy generated by users’ exertion not only powers the console or charges small electronic devices plugged in, but 74-percent is captured, converted, and returned to the grid as utility grade electricity. Their ECO-Powr G510 Indoor Cycle generates approximately 200 watts per hour workout. The SportsArt’s SA Well+ User App home screen provides real-time data on energy generated by the user as well as their performance.
Helping Save the Honey Bees: BeeLife CoCoon Smart, Solar-Powered Hive
Calling all beekeepers, it’s time to turn up the heat on your bees’ nemesis, the parasitic mites. Unveiling the CoCoon Hive prototype at CES, French start-up BeeLife looks to arm beekeepers, not with yet another chemical pesticide, but an alternative, more ecologically-sensitive, weapon against these Varroa Destructor mites. As it turns out, perhaps the only weakness of the Varroa Destructor mites is heat. If exposed to temperatures above 108-degree Fahrenheit for more than several hours, the mites will die. Meanwhile, the honey bees are able to withstand the short duration of hotter temperatures.
A top-mounted solar panel on the CoCoon Hive powers up a heating system to heat-kill the Varroa mites. As an added bonus, the smart hive system, containing an AI-embedded computer, can also cool the hive during excessive heat waves, warm the hive during cold spells, and keep track of hive activity. The whole system is remote controlled and monitored.
The net result should be a healthier hive, longer life for the bees and, of course, more honey production with the CoCoon Hive. That means more sales and revenues for the beekeeper. While earning CES’s 2019 Best in Innovations award for the Sustainability and Eco-Design category, BeeLife’s CoCoon prototype still needs financial backing for it to get into production. It couldn’t come soon enough, given the alarming rate at which bee populations have been dying out around the world.
John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Both are speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, a 10.8-kW solar power station and millions of ladybugs.
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