Future of Health: Off The Grid Energy

Future of Health: Off The Grid Energy

The development of human scale technologies that can to tap into and harness alternative sources of energy is yielding new solutions for powering peoples lives off the grid.

Scott Mioduszewski
  • 2 august 2010

Off The Grid Energy

This post is part of a PSFK Consulting project aimed at providing insight into the Future of Health. Off The Grid Energy is one trend of fifteen that appears in our exploration of  how technology and access to information play a vital role in the ways that people will understand, manage and receive care whether that’s at home, in hospitals and clinics or in doctor’s offices.


The development of human scale technologies that can to tap into and harness alternative sources of energy is yielding new solutions for powering peoples lives off the grid. Without requiring a costly infrastructure to deliver energy, these innovations address the need for access to basic services, providing a level of autonomy, sustainability and comfort that can be readily deployed in virtually any situation.


  • Reducing Power Load – Self-generated power ensures communication lines remain open regardless of time of day or conditions, providing reliable connections for electronics.
  • Capturing Energy Exhaust – Innovative design can work to capture energy from existing activities that would otherwise go to waste.
  • Self-Sustaining Individuals – By generating their own sources of energy, users can alleviate some of the concerns around the reliability of utilities.
  • Energy Commodities – By harnessing energy from existing activities and storing it, communities resell can harvest energy to resell.

Supporting Examples For Off The Grid Energy


Bike Powered Phone Charger
The Nokia Bicycle Charger Kit can be attached to any bicycle to power up devices from the pedaling motion of the bike’s rider. The electricity generator is powered by the front bicycle wheel as a rider pedals and transfers electricity to a charger attached to the handlebar, which plugs into a phone. A 10-minute journey at six miles per hour produces around 28 minutes of talk time or 37 hours of standby time.


Cooking Stove Stores Excess Energy For Charging
The BioLite portable cooking stove is a working prototype that is designed to revolutionize cooking for the nearly 3 billion people who cook with wood or other solid fuels. As the fuel burns, a fraction of the thermal energy produced is harvested, converted to electricity, and used to power a small fan that aids combustion efficiency. Excess electricity is made available to users for charging small electronic devices such as cell phones and LED lights.


Solar Refrigeration For Vaccines
The Appropriate Technology Collaborative, in partnership with engineering students and professors at Michigan State University, has developed a refrigeration technology that requires no moving parts and receives its power from solar energy. The Solar Vaccine refrigerator uses the heat from the sun to create condensation within the unit, which in turn creates a cooling effect. The design is easy to maintain, uses basic materials and can be assembled in the country or region where it is to be used.


Subscription Model For Supplying Home Energy
Created by a team from MIT and Harvard, Egg Energy uses a subscription model approach to supplying energy to populations in developing countries. For a $27 first-year subscription, customers will get their home wired for electricity and receive a fully-charged, relatively compact battery. This power supply can be swapped out for a fresh one whenever necessary at a cost of 40 cents, bringing an estimated savings of $31 per year to average homes.


Soccer Ball Generates And Stores Electricity
The Soccket is a prototype soccer ball design that captures the energy generated during game play using an inductive coil mechanism at its core. After playing with the ball, a child can return home and use the ball to power an LED lamp or plug in batteries in need of a charge. Currently, 15 minutes of play can provide 3 hours of LED light.


Low-Cost Solar Concentrator
Solupower is a patent-pending solar concentrator designed by D-Rev for use in the developing world, intended to provide electricity for cell phone chargers, batteries, or other devices. Costing $50, the modular system can be tailored for various end-uses and multiple units can be linked together to create a larger generation array.

About PSFK’s Future Of Health Report


PSFK’s Future of Health Report details 15 trends that will impact health and wellness around the world. Simple advances such as off-the-grid energy and the introduction of gaming into healthcare service offerings sit alongside more future-forward developments such as bio-medical printing. The report includes concepts for UNICEF based on the trends provided by the world’s leading advertising and design agencies. It is our hope that this report will inspire your thinking and lead to services, applications and technologies which will allow for more available, quality healthcare.


Transformable Table Maximizes Utility In Small Spaces

Design & Architecture
Retail Today

Runners Are Delivering Groceries To Parisians

French supermarket Carrefour partnered with a running group for fast and memorable deliveries

Gaming & Play Today

DIY Kits Let You Create Your Own Cameras And Speakers

Computer-building startup Kano has entered the IoT space with a new set of original products


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Syndicated Yesterday

How Fashion Became All About Fonts

Why a new wave of designs have put typography front and center on your clothing

Automotive Yesterday

GM And Audi Are Experimenting With Car Rentals In SF

The automakers are trying something new to capture the segment of urban dwellers who don't want to own a car

Travel Yesterday

This Vertical Forest Hotel Will Improve The Air Around It

An architectural firm is creating a lush mountain lodging in China with so much greenery that it will actually clean the atmosphere

Work Yesterday

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Europe Yesterday

This Company Believes Insects Can Provide Biofuel To Power Our Future

A Polish group is testing out a new factory concept that can provide a source of renewable energy, and even serve space missions


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 25, 2016

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Technology Yesterday

Music Venue Caters To Virtual Reality Events

Boiler Room has launched the first VR hub for content creators to capture special footage for the masses

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Automated Chessboard Lets You Play Against Anyone In The World

Square Off is an AI-powered board that can move the pieces on its own

Technology Yesterday

Contraband Recorder Helps Those In Need Capture Captive Conversations

Designer Marianna Mezhibovkaya created the device to help prison inmates capture crucial evidence of abuse

Advertising Yesterday

A Compelling Brand Purpose Is Never Born In The Boardroom

Strategist and Designer Anna-Rae Morris shares why she believes all brands exist for a reason, and how Snapchat has upended our behavior

Retail Yesterday

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Xs And Os Of Performance-Enhanced Sports

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats explain that we're only at the iceberg's tip of performance enhancement

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Kodak’s Smartphone Is Inspired By A Retro Camera

Ektra is an Android phone with a powerful lens aimed at photographers

No search results found.