This week at Treehugger: Lots! The Treehugger gang takes a skeptical look at a new tourism-sport concept from Brazil: Bus Bike. They check out a calculator, an educational kit flashlight and a more utilitarian flashlight that have in common that they get their power from being shaken up. There's also a hybrid snowblower (Asian girl not included), a portable energy source that you just have to step on, cool vertical wind turbines and, on the lighter side, funky LED hats.
Bus biking is a new sport/tourism concept from Brazil. The idea of riding an exercise bike inside a bus, as it drives past the beach is just so surreal it reminds us of a classic Michael Leunig cartoon. It conveyed the image of characters showing their child a gorgeous sunset on TV while the real thing is happening right outside their window. Still, it is better for these people to exercise and take public transit than to take individual cars or just sit in a bus, so it can't be all bad.
The Shake-U-Lator Calculator, Forever Flashlight by Excalibur and Educational Hand-Powered Flashlight Kit are related in that they are all hand-powered, either by a shaking motion or by squeezing a handle. The see-through casing of the flashlights is particularly interesting and can be educational for children, not to mention that these can be quite handy when the power goes out and you don't have any batteries.
We couldn't resist writing about this hybrid snowblower by Honda. Hybrid cars get so much coverage that we forget that hybridization can also benefit other mechanical devices. Don't buy it for the Japanese girl, though. She's not on the option list.
The FreeCharge Weza is a portable energy source that outputs 12V DC through a standard "cigarette lighter" style plug. It has enough power to jump-start a car or boat and it can also recharge most portable devices. The beauty of it is that you can recharge it by stepping on a treadle; great in emergency situation! We're sure they could have used some of those in the post-hurricane "war zone"...
Windside is a company that makes vertical wind turbines. Their main selling points are that they are quiet, don't take much space and are quite efficient in turning wind into electricity. These turbines have been around for over 20 years and are based on sailing engineering.
Treehugger s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.