This year’s Consumer Electronic Show held on January 8th in Las Vegas boasted plenty of products that will help Americans reduce their energy consumption in new and inventive ways. CES is often at the forefront of new gadget technology for the upcoming year. Since green seems to be everyone’s new favorite color, the tech industry is constantly looking for new green technology, while looking to rake in a different kind of green for themselves. However, some technologies are still cutting some corners just to make a dollar.
The new eco friendly technology has spurred ideas from well-established companies, along with making new companies with products devoted entirely to conservation and renewable energy.
Motorola revealed the world’s first “carbon neutral” mobile phone, “The Renew.” The Renew leaves no carbon footprint and boasts zero carbon emissions. Of course this may not necessarily apply to the manufacturing process of the phone, but that’s another story. The Renew’s casing is made of 100% recycled plastic and is said to be 100% recyclable when you’ve moved on to your next eco-friendly phone. The Renew is currently being sold through T-Mobile.
Green Plug, a new energy-conscious company, unveiled its Innergie charger. The charger works in two ways: it’s a universal charger, which is meant to reduce the need for multiple (and therefore wasteful) specific power chargers for each electronic device, and its innovative charging interface. The interface is designed to stop power consumption once objects are shut off. The Innergie can completely shut off power to a connected device once it is fully charged and does not require power. This will be very useful to the more green-minded of us that constantly have to remove plugs around the house once they’re done being used. Green Plug’s ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for separate chargers entirely, which become wasteful over time.
Solar power was a huge trend for gadget makers, big and small. Energizer unveiled its new Rechargeable Solar Charger. It can charge AA and AAA batteries and has a USB port to charge your iPod and any other USB devices using only solar power. It does, however, include an AC adapter in case there’s extended sunless weather.
Voltaic went to CES with its already popular line of solar-powered backpacks and messenger bags. These bags are designed to charge most laptops and any USB charged device while you’re walking out in the sun. The bags themselves are also made of 100% recycled material. Their bags, however, usually cost around $200-$500. But if you’re willing to dish out the cash it’s a good way to stay powered and green at the same time.
While all of these products indicate a general movement towards greener technology, the products displayed at CSE this year – many of them small appliance chargers and entertaining gadgets — are still a far cry from the more affective innovations we truly need to become more eco-friendly. Many of these products will not make a significant impact unless almost every consumer were to use these objects. On top of that, other companies that are promising greener products are in fact still taking shortcuts in an attempt to make a quick buck. Fuji is marketing a new “eco-friendly” line of batteries, the EnviroMAX battery. Fuji is pulling out all the stops to market these batteries to the eco-conscious consumer, even trumpeting the recycled paper that it is packaged in. Now, it is true that these batteries do not contain any harmful materials such as mercury and cadmium and that the factories that produce them are “some of the world’s most eco-friendly battery plants, operating under some of the most strict standards of environmental responsibility” according to their website However, the fact that they are simply newer, slightly more efficient versions of old technology rather than something, for example, renewable, does nothing to alleviate the already large amount of batteries that are often not recycled properly. These batteries are said to break down over a course of 1000 years, and yet Fuji claims that it’s perfectly fine to throw into a landfill!
The level technology and innovation demanded by the “green” community is still not present from this year’s CES. What’s more, the gadgets that have a chance at making a difference are still out of the price range of the average consumer. Thankfully the demand is growing fast enough that the major companies are taking notice. Perhaps 2010 will be the year that the tech world goes truly green. We can only hope.