IMPACT JOURNALISM DAY

GravityLight: Making light affordable

A boy reading under the SatLight attachment of GravityLight, charged by hanging weights from a small generator.
A boy reading under the SatLight attachment of GravityLight, charged by hanging weights from a small generator.PHOTO: DECIWATT
The GravityLight is charged by simply letting a weight fall slowly while attached to a small generator.
The GravityLight is charged by simply letting a weight fall slowly while attached to a small generator.PHOTO: DECIWATT

The magic of light can make all the difference. One company has set out to ensure it is affordable too, for those who can't afford it. 

Deciwatt, a start-up based in London, has developed a gravity-based lamp which they call the GravityLight to do just that. 

The lamp is powered by weights and provides enough light to brighten a room, for 30 minutes on the low setting, or 15 minutes on high setting. 

To charge the lamp, weights (this could be rocks, sand or anything else) of between eight and 12 kilograms are attached to a hook at the end of a cord. 

The weight is pulled downwards by gravity, turning a set of small gears and a small generator, which powers an LED bulb. 

By the time the weights reach the floor, it creates enough energy for the lamp, that can he hung on the wall or from the ceiling.  

The product was designed by two developers in the United Kingdom - Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves - over four years and launched in 2012.

The makers of the lamp (which costs about US$5) aim to help millions of people who do not have access to electricity. It can be used anywhere in the world and it works regardless of the weather. 

GravityLight also helps people break the poverty cycle among those dependent on kerosene, in places like India and Africa. 

In Kenya for example, Deciwatt is building its assembly line and in turn, offering jobs and opportunities to the people besides providing light in their households. 

The company hopes that besides improving people's day-to-day lives in impoverished areas, the product will find use in humanitarian relief and disaster preparedness as well. And it also hopes that in due course the technology can be improved to power other devices and charge batteries. 

It was one of the projects identified by The Straits Times as one that could make a difference to people's lives in developing countries of Asia, during an event in Paris to select projects that could have a substantial impact, in September last year to celebrate Impact Journalism Day. 

Time Magazine called it one of the best 25 inventions of the year. While CNN labelled it the top ten revolutionary innovations.

Deciwatt is hoping to launch an upgraded version of the product soon.