Getting Lucky at the Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show

Last week, we took our personal hydrogen fuel cell charger Upp to the people who make it their goal to live life unplugged: the attendees of The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show. For the uninitiated, the Outdoor Show (as it’s affectionately called) is the UK’s largest exhibition for adventurers of all types. Whether your hobby is travelling, photography, climbing or watersports – or if you’d just like to pick up some new gear—the Outdoor Show is a must–attend. Beyond just practical shopping, it’s a great place to get inspired and check out what’s new in the adventure circuit. So of course, this was the perfect place for us to display Upp.

Go Outdoors 4
We were at London’s ExCel Centre for all four days of the conference, from Thursday, February 12 to Sunday, February 15. Of course, we had our work cut out for us keeping all of our fellow adventurers and conference attendees powered up and unplugged. While many attendees had scaled mountains before, sometimes there’s no more impossible feat than just keeping your phone charged at one of these marathon conferences.  But we decided to debut a special feature at this conference for those who were feeling particularly lucky: our very own Wheel of Fortune! How did it work? Conference attendees could spin to win an Upp, a cartridge or an Upp-powered device like a GoPro! There were no losers here – everyone who spun walked away with at least a lollypop.

As for the conference itself, we definitely got inspired for our next adventure. There were stands for destinations all over the world, climbing centres to test our abilities before hitting some real boulders, and even some downright bizarre displays of skills that we hope to never have to put to the test, like skinning rabbits and eating worms.

Did you attend the show? What there inspired you to want to live life unplugged the most?

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Cars, Wearables and Drones, Oh My: CES 2015 Highlights

For its 48th year running, International CES 2015 did not disappoint, drawing 3,600 exhibitors and more than 160,000 people to the desert of Las Vegas for flashy product launches, parties and keynotes. It’s undoubtedly one of the most exhausting weeks of the year leaving us with aching feet and much less hydrated than when we arrived. But it’s worth it after witnessing the year’s most mind-blowing technology firsthand.

Undoubtedly, 2015 will be remembered as the year we build a more connected and mobile world. Cars, drones, wearables, 3D printers and smart-everything captivated our attention and the attention of show-goers judging by the conversations we overheard in the crowded halls of the LVCC and the Sands.

The best keynote of CES 2015, according to The Verge, was delivered by Intel CEO Brian Krzanic who opened with a concept that precisely sums up the show: “We’re going from a two dimensional world, to a three dimensional world. This additional dimension will change how we experience computing.” While he included no mention at all of the much buzzed about “Internet of Things,” there were plenty of theatrical demonstrations of “autonomous drones, intelligent doorways, and sight-assisting jackets.”

Here are some of the highlights that caught our attention:

Cars. Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle, Mercedes-Benz self-driving prototype, Audi’s self-driving A7. If we didn’t know better we’d say we were at a car show. In fact, CES is now being called the most important car show of the year. With a record 10 automakers at this year’s CES, Krzanic’s statement rings true – the way we experience computing is changing and that includes in our vehicles. One announcement we’re particularly excited about: Toyota will grant access to its intellectual property, a move that we hope will help to build the fuel cell infrastructure for a growing hydrogen economy in 2015.

Wearables. We saw smartwatches in all shapes, sizes, colors and styles. It’s clear that designing accessories that blend in to look and feel like regular jewelry is top of mind for companies. CNET noted “Misfit’s Swarovski Shine solar-powered fitness jewelry looks like Swarovski jewelry. A crystal-studded necklace, a crystal pendant. You’d never know someone was wearing a smart device just from looking at it.” Not a wearable per say but we also got a sweat on testing Tao, a tiny gym in your pocket, which looks like a computer mouse but allows you to work out anywhere using body weight. Importantly, dogs made a major showing at CES this year – we saw a smart collar for your pup called Tagg that tracks location, activity and body temperature of your pet. And topping it off, a smart belt that automatically compensates for your giant dinner.

Drones. Drones aren’t new to CES but this year they seemed to be more prevalent and not surprisingly, more intelligent. The main uses for drones are military and photography controlled by remote but last week several autonomous drones made an appearance including the Airdog, Hexo+, Trace and Ghost. With a “follow me” feature, “the drone locks onto you and flies anywhere you go.” DJI’s new drone, the Inspire 1, was one of the most popular products thanks to its stabilizing 4K camera, but possibly topping all drone showings was the choreographed drone dance performed by Parrot.

Julian Hughes, Intelligent Energy’s Corporate Business Development Director, demonstrates Upp™, the company’s portable hydrogen fuel cell power solution for USB-compatible devices.

Julian Hughes, Intelligent Energy’s Corporate Business Development Director, demonstrates Upp™, the company’s portable hydrogen fuel cell power solution for USB-compatible devices.

Rounding out a great week, we were thrilled to be named a CES Innovation Award Honoree for our latest fuel cell innovation named, Upp, the portable power solution driven by a hydrogen fuel cell to power up USB-compatible devices. Between Toyota’s fuel cell Mirai and the Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion, which is powered by a fuel cell and a battery, fuel cells were a hot topic at CES 2015. As we enter the New Year, we’re excited to play a role in the hydrogen economy and bring new forms of energy mainstream to enable today’s always-on connected consumer and world!

Julian Hughes picks up the 2015 CES Innovation Award.

Julian Hughes picks up the 2015 CES Innovation Award.

TechCrunch Disrupt London Gets to #PowerUpp with Intelligent Energy

While we had a blast helping TechCrunch Disrupt SF live life unplugged a few weeks ago, we wanted to bring some of that great buzz closer to home. Fortunately, we got the chance to do just that this week at TechCrunch Disrupt in London. There are no shortage of bright minds and great ideas on our side of the pond, and so it was great to show off Upp amongst more local peers.

How did we fare on our home turf?  Better than ever! Once again, it turns out there’s nothing like wandering around a conference all day and draining your phone battery by noon to make you appreciate when someone hands you a portable hydrogen fuel cell. By 11 am both days, we had desperate attendees swarming the booth, many of them notified of our presence by the groundswell of enthusiasm for Upp on social media.

Tweet 1The TechCrunch attendees were not only incredibly appreciative of the convenience of getting to borrow a portable charger, but they were also completely wowed by the technology itself. Given the technical background of many of the attendees, they were fascinated by the sophisticated fuel cell technology compressed into Upp, and truly amazed that this kind of product will soon be available for them to purchase and use on a daily basis. The crew from ITProPortal even stopped by, and were so impressed by our demo that they featured Upp as one of the most exciting finds at the conference in their roundup of the action.

Tweet 2

Favourite moment? When a conference goer arrived at our stand with another battery pack, which he’d unfortunately forgotten to charge before heading out to TechCrunch, thus rendering it useless. It really brought home the benefits of Upp versus other portable chargers – why live your life attached to wall charging but just with a longer tether when you could abandon the socket altogether and live life unplugged? Upp saved the day, and we charged not just his depleted phone, but his battery as well. Needless to say, we can now count him as one of our successful converts.

It was another great event, and the buzz about Upp is only continuing to grow. Luckily, all of our devotees won’t have much longer to wait!

London Tourists and Shoppers Seize the Chance to ‘Live Life Unplugged’

With the launch of Upp growing ever closer, we thought that we’d give the British public a taste of life free from the grid. For one week, beginning 22nd September we set up a sneak preview booth in London’s Covent Garden that gave many people their first chance to get ‘hands-on’ with Upp – hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Shoppers and tourists were able to give their smart devices a quick top-up (a godsend in one of the Capital’s biggest tourist hotspots!) or even borrow an Upp while they took in the shopping and sights that London has to offer – simply swipe their card and take the opportunity to live life unplugged for a day. Visitors to the booth were also invited to take an Instagram picture of themselves at the stand, tagged with the hashtag #powerupp which would be insta-printed at the stand.

Alongside our many activities for Upp, we also had the hydrogen-powered fuel cell London Taxi on display. For many people, hydrogen power is something they usually associate with cars and we felt this was a great way to show the versatility of hydrogen fuel cells. What’s more, it perfectly illustrated how Intelligent Energy has miniaturised a technology synonymous with powering vehicles into a handheld consumer product that can be used to power your phone, tablet or camera.

The taxi also served as a handy booth where people could come and share how they feel when their phone battery dies; it’s fair to say that the frustration felt is universal! In fact, here are a few of the responses we received:

  • “Amazing getting the idea from a taxi, Great for the environment, everyone should have one.”
  • “Great that its clean energy, Lots of potential, it can charge more than one variant of devices.”
  • “Very robust, the reversible case is great, the rate of charge is phenomenal.”
  • “Great that its clean energy, Lots of potential, it can charge more than one variant of  devices.”

The response received over the week was genuinely encouraging and only served to reinforce our belief that the world is ready for fuel cell technology – it won’t be long now before it’s in their hands.

Powering Africa into the Information Age

Africa is a honeypot for investment

Africa is a honeypot for investment

The African economy and infrastructure are starting to become a real honeypot for investment. Over the past 10 years, the region’s economic output has tripled to $2 trillion. Global fund management group T. Rowe Price says that, over the next five years, eight out of 10 of the fastest growing countries in the world will come from Africa and the Middle East. According to the World Bank, the African economy grew by 5.6% in 2013. This rapid growth, alongside the region’s dynamism, huge potential consumer markets and reform programmes are attracting savvy Western investors away from more sluggish economies.

Private equity players are also piling in. Over the past five years, private equity firms have invested nearly $12 billion in Africa, according to a study by Ernst & Young and the African Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (AVCA). Last October, Carlyle Group raised nearly $600 million for its first sub-Saharan Africa fund. Sovereign borrowers have also benefited; African governments have raised a record $8 billion in global bonds, up from just $1 billion a decade ago, as international investors chase yields that are unavailable elsewhere.

Mobile phone uptake is a crucial theme in Africa’s growth story. In a region beset by undeveloped infrastructure and limited access to fixed lines, it is perhaps not surprising that Africans have rushed to embrace wireless telephony. According to the GSMA, the global body for the mobile phone industry, subscriber numbers in sub-Saharan Africa have risen to 475 million from 90 million seven years ago, making it the fastest growing region in the world.

The link between mobile phone usage and economic growth is clear: an additional 10 phones per hundred people leads to a GDP per capita increase of as much as 0.6 per cent. The impact is even larger in developing countries, at between 0.8 and 1.2 percentage points.

In developing regions such as Africa, mobile phones aren’t simply used for communicating with friends and relatives. They are the main medium for accessing the Internet and fulfill the social functions that we in the West take for granted. For instance, through a system known as mobile money, many Africans rely on their mobile phone to pay for goods and services and even make savings, because of the absence of physical bank branches. In Kenya, some two-thirds of the adult population uses this system and about a quarter of the country’s GNP flows through it. Across sub-Saharan Africa, the mobile economy in its entirety generates 6 per cent of GDP, higher than in any other region worldwide.

With electricity blackouts commonplace and limited access to the local grid even when it is working, powering Africa’s access to communications is crucial if recent impressive growth rates are to be maintained. With the advent of the Cloud and smart technology, individuals are demanding ever more from their mobile devices. All this needs greater amounts of energy and the current battery technology that Africans rely on to power their devices is struggling to keep up.

Working alongside incumbent African businesses, innovative Western companies can help solve such problems and play a part in assisting the continent’s exciting growth story. In late 2013, we unveiled “UppTM”, a portable energy device which uses our hydrogen fuel cell technology and is aimed initially at the African consumer electronics market. The device will provide customers with a week’s worth of power for USB-compatible electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets and portable gaming consoles, without the requirement to recharge from an electricity grid and with the benefit of zero-emission energy. We launched Upp at AfricaCom 2013 and the reception received from press, customers, potential partners and network carriers was evidence that a device that gives customers energy freedom and power on the go is sorely needed.

For Western companies willing to grasp the continent’s infrastructure and demographic challenges, Africa can be a land of opportunity.

Upp personal energy turns heads at CES 2014

It’s been an exciting time for Intelligent Energy. We’ve just returned from CES in Las Vegas where we were joined by 250,000 visitors as device makers put their cards on the table and showcased the best they have to offer in consumer electronics, from electric vehicles to smart watches and expanding smart devices.

While electronics continues to shrink in its size and power consumption, phablet launches from both Hisense and Samsung bucked the trend this year with much larger screens, with the former measuring 12.2-inches and the latter 6.8-inches. Meanwhile Sony’s Experia Z1 Compact won Engadget’s Best of CES Award having shrunk a very capable phone into a smaller, and well received, package with an impressive 20.7 Mega Pixel camera and a top-of-the-class quad-core processor.

No matter which new device you place your bets on in 2014, Consumer Electronics Show visitors know only too well that having enough energy to make it through a busy day is by no means guaranteed – especially as screens grow and processors get faster and more capable.  We unveiled our solution to these personal device energy challenges on Monday, announcing our partnership with high-technology electronics specialist Brookstone to make Upp fuel cell personal energy available throughout the US. The launch earned prominent US media coverage with reports in CNN and CNET and was featured in The Denver Post’s 5 things you missed at CES and Fox 2 news’ Six odd and crazy technologies at CES (We read “crazy” as something they haven’t seen before!)

Upp charging a smartphone

Upp charging a smartphone

It stands to reason that US consumers need help staying connected: North America has the highest 4G mobile network penetration in the world, accounting for 10% of all connections. But while the myriad of 4G connectivity solutions at CES provide vast opportunities to mobile device users, it also considerably reduces mobile battery life. This challenge makes Upp ideal for US consumers who want 4G’s improved connectivity, but don’t want the limitation of staying near a plug socket to recharge their device every few hours.

We’d like to thank our partners at Brookstone for putting up a great stand at CES – and all the people that came to experience our new portable fuel cell energy first hand. From now on US customers will be able use the Upp personal energy device stay connected at all times: on the subway, exploring outdoors, or wherever they venture in the world with personal energy in the palm of their hands. Brookstone’s extensive presence throughout US airports will offer consumers on-the-go easy access to this mobile power source to supply their energy needs, with the facility to exchange cartridges as required – each giving up to a week’s energy for the most power hungry smartphones.

Upp demonstration on Brookstone stand at CES

Upp demonstration on Brookstone stand at CES

The adoption of smart mobile devices such as phones, phablets and tablets is a global phenomenon, providing international business hubs with 24 hour access to emails, calls and enabling developing nations with sparse infrastructure to connect and build mobile economies. Whether you’re a busy Silicon Valley entrepreneur visiting investors or a climber exploring the Rockies, the odds are that your battery will run low when you’re off the power grid with no wall socket to plug in to. The Upp device evens the odds stacked against the mobile user with what New Scientist names the “key component seemingly left in the dust” – insufficient battery life –  recharges a vast array of USB compatible devices from camera to GPS with hydrogen fuel cell technology.

While CES may have showcased many innovations, few offer energy freedom like Upp. Intelligent Energy’s new partnership with Brookstone will provide US consumers complete independence from the grid and the freedom to achieve their goals both professionally and personally on their own terms, making their own luck with a trump card – freedom from the grid.

Fuel cells offer solution to mobile device energy challenges

There is no question; mobile devices are now integral to our daily lives. They are also an essential cog in the economic machinery of individuals and businesses throughout the world. This is especially pronounced in developing economies where mobile has transformed the way consumers and businesses operate, indeed increases in the use of mobile telephony are directly related to increased economic growth. Last month, the GSMA reported that the mobile ecosystem directly supported 3.3 million jobs and contributed US $21 billion to public funding in the sub-Saharan Africa and is set to double its economic effect by 2020.

With the exciting launch of the Mxit 7 social media app, LTE mobile Internet and m-payments topping the agenda at AfricaCom, last month it was all too easy to forget that even in South Africa the most important daily function of the mobile phone is for making calls – whether calling family, friends, or conducting the essential transactions that keep businesses growing.

But, take away the power for mobile devices and suddenly our connected world falls into disarray. The mobile world and all that it enables lasts only as long as its batteries!

There was a time, not so long ago before apps, Internet and super-resolution cameras when the deciding factor when choosing a mobile phone was their talk-time. Today, our phones and other mobile devices are getting smarter and more capable; and this means they are becoming more power hungry which further increases the demand on their batteries.

It would be fair to say that improvements in battery technology have not kept pace with the demands of today’s mobile technology and habits. How often do you have to recharge your phone in a typical working day for example? In fact, a study of South African mobile users conducted by Intelligent Energy showed that 30.4% said “every day” and 5.9% even charge several times a day.

Battery charging strategy

How often do you have to recharge your phone in a typical working day for example?

Even if you have access to mains electricity, it takes time to recharge and you may be competing with colleagues for power outlets. In South Africa, 37m people have access to power, but following a boom in device adoption, there are now 59m mobile devices. That’s a lot of competition for a socket if you’re caught short on battery. We found that an astonishing 83.5% of South African consumers are willing to pay to recharge their phone when it loses power.

Electricity vs mobile

It is not acceptable that progress, smarter working and economic growth are endangered because of battery limitations. Quite simply, ways have to be found to put more energy into people’s hands. We can’t afford to wait for a breakthrough in battery technology which may never happen, so what is to be done? Fortunately there is an answer, and it comes in the form of hydrogen fuel cells.

Fuel cells, such as those being commerclialised by Intelligent Energy and our partners, are suitable for a range of sectors. They are a highly efficient and clean way of generating electricity, combining hydrogen with air to produce power with no polluting emissions.  A highly scalable technology, they are being targeted at a wide range of applications, from cars, buses, and motorbikes to back-up and distributed power generation and for providing power to mobile devices.

At Intelligent Energy, we have been working to bring fuel cell technology and its compelling attributes into the world of consumer electronics. This came to fruition at AfricaCom when Intelligent Energy launched Upp, a personal energy device, to charge and power USB-compatible portable electronic devices, such as smartphones, feature phones, eReaders, tablets, portable gaming consoles, as well as digital cameras.

With billions of USB devices used by consumers worldwide, Upp delivers at least one week of charge even to the most demanding, power-hungry smartphones,  giving mobile consumers the energy freedom and independence to stay connected for longer. Now you can have your own personal and instant energy whenever and wherever you need it, whether you’re at home, work or on the road.

This year, we have carried out successful consumer field deployments in 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 and we look forward to working with users and the mobile ecosystem to give Africa freedom from the grid.

For more information please visit www.beupp.com, and follow our journey as we free the world from the power grid with Upp personal energy on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This blog was originally published on the Com World Series blog.