The average American lives 78.8 years; their heart beats more than 2.5 billion times over a lifetime; and they’ll walk more than 215 million steps over their lifetime.
What if you could take all that energy and get something back out of it?
Now you can. Or, at least, the technology has been developed that you could if you wanted to.
AMPY is the brainchild of co-founders Tejas Shastry, Mike Geier and Alex Smith. It’s a small wearable charger that converts the energy you use while walking or exercising into energy to power your phone or tablet. An hour of exercise – running, biking, hiking – can create up to five hours of smartphone use in standby use mode, or 24 hours for a smartwatch.
The idea came from a common problem: cell phone batteries tapping out at the worst time, when you’re not near a charger or you don’t have one with you. “We’re all very active people – we put so much energy into our day – why can’t we get some of it back?” Shastry explains.
When Shastry, Geier and Smith told others about their idea, the response was, “This idea sounds great – why doesn’t this exist already?”
The answer: “The reason it wasn’t done before was because of the technology and design,” Shastry says. “We had our work cut out for us. It took two years to get it to where it is today.”
The Evanston, IL – based start-up prototyped the technology and tested it. And tested it and tested it, gathering hundreds of hours of feedback before launching the product. Today, the product is small and black, and the design was inspired by a hip flask. “We had to make sure it’s truly wearable and comfortable,” Shastry explains. All in all, AMPY is around the size of a deck of cards and the weight of a smartphone.
In addition to the product, there’s also an app – to tell you how much juice you’ve collected. Some of the consistent feedback had been, “How much power will I get out of my phone?” “It was a black box for a lot of people. So, we decided to show people how much power they have on their phone,” Shastry says. “We needed to show people that AMPY works.”
So, AMPY has designed and tested the product, and developed an app, and they’re catching the attention of major news outlets. Forbes just placed Shastry, Geier and Smith on the famous 30 Under 30 list. Natalie Morales even used it to charge two phones on the Today show. Now, they’re looking to improve, grow and expand their impact on health devices.
“We see a lot of impact [with] powering wearable [fitness] devices,” Shastry says, referring to products such as Fit Bit, Garmin’s Vivofit and Sony’s Smartband Talk. “[You] never having to worry about charging it – it allows you to do more things.”
The coupling of AMPY with wearable devices is a natural fit, since AMPY’s target market is younger, active, urban people. “AMPY really gives you the motivation to move because if you’re wearing it, you’re getting a tangible product,” Shastry explains. “When you go to the gym already, you have the reward of the workout that you can use later on in the day.”
He also points out that the technology found in AMPY can be used for medical devices. “Things like insulin pumps – where not having to worry about charging or powering those – it could be life-saving.”
As Apple, Google, Fit Bit and the hundreds of other device producers continue to update their software and hardware, the founders of AMPY are ready to keep up. “It’s always challenging when you’re developing a product that powers other products,” Shastry says. “Every challenge we’ve used as an opportunity to improve our products.”
Conclusion: We’re going to hear a lot more from AMPY. The need for renewable energy isn’t going away, and AMPY empowers the individual to be their own power source.