Intelligent Energy has developed a personal energy device that charges and powers USB-compatible portable electronic devices, such as smartphones, feature phones, eReaders, tablets, portable gaming consoles and digital cameras.

The technology, called Upp, takes hydrogen provided by a fuel cartridge and combines it with air to produce clean electricity with water vapour as a by-product. According to Intelligent Energy, the portable energy device delivers at least one week of charge even to the most demanding, power-hungry smartphones.

Intelligent Energy CEO Henri Winand said the technology represents a “new category of energy device”, and hailed the transformational implications for the portable electronics market and the consumer.

“With the growing demand for portable devices, mobile and cloud services, consumers want the energy independence to keep their devices connected and powered-up all the time. Upp is evidence that fuel cells are not just rocket science; the Upp fuel cell personal energy device has the power to extend your everyday life experiences and untether you from the wall socket, while making sure you stay connected,” added Winand.

The company will launch the device in Africa where demand for mobile technology has significantly increased over the last few years but powering options are still limited.

According to mobile analytics platform GSMA Intelligence, mobile phone subscriptions have risen to 475 million from 90 million in sub-Saharan Africa within the past seven years, and worldwide the number of subscriptions has passed 6.5 billion.

Intelligent Energy says Upp is designed from the ground up to address the needs of global consumers who rely on their mobile devices for productivity, leisure and livelihood and will be initially rolled out in December 2013.

Commenting on the pent-up demand in the region for extended uptime of portable devices, Intelligent Energy’s managing director of consumer electronics, Amar Samra, said: “This year, we have carried out successful consumer field deployments in the region and are now in the process of expanding and recruiting further mobile partners worldwide. We believe Upp is a real game changer for Africa”.

“Batteries need help: their capabilities haven’t kept pace with innovation in smart connected portable devices. Given that 75% of the global population relies on the mobile phone to stay connected, the more you want to do with your device, the more energy you need. Consumers need a reliable source of personal and portable energy, and Upp gives you that critical uptime when you really need it,” added Samra.

The technology could potentially help offset some of the increasing energy consumption of the digital economy.

According to a report, carried out by technology investment and advisory firm, Digital Power Group, the world’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) ecosystem uses about 1,500 TWh of electricity annually, equal to all the electricity generated in Japan and Germany combined and as much electricity as was used for global illumination in 1985.

Leigh Stringer

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