WakaWaka isn’t just for Fozzie Bear anymore

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 4:19pm
Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern

The phrase “WakaWaka” is being thrown around at this year’s CES and there isn’t a muppet in sight. WakaWaka ("Shine Bright" in Swahili) is a business venture that aims to provide high-tech and low-cost solar technology to developing countries and areas affected by natural (or manmade, they won’t ask!) disaster. The company hopes to end the global problem of “energy-poverty” as well as provide a way for people to charge their electronics during power outages.

The soon-to-be released products unveiled at CES are two compact solar base stations called Base-5 and Base-10 that convert solar energy into battery power for any device connected via USB port. The Base-5 has three USB ports and has enough juice for two iPhones after sitting outside in the sun four to eight hours. Base-10 boasts five USB ports and can charge five iPhones before running out of energy. They also come with strands of LED lights to brighten the house during a power outage while you’re charging your tablet.

WakaWaka’s new products seem like silly luxury items at first glance, but they make a lot of sense. The east coast was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy a little over a year ago and current low temperatures, wind, and ice across the country are bound to cause their fair share of power outages. Disasters like these aren’t rare.

Furthermore, a lot of people don’t use landlines anymore, so if power cuts out and a cellphone doesn’t work they’re out of luck. It’s not that they won’t be able to update Twitter or check Facebook. They might need to phone a doctor or look up emergency numbers and procedures online. You can’t do that with a dead battery.

WakaWaka is no stranger to the concept of philanthropy. They even have a "buy a lamp, give one to a Syrian refugee family" program, which is kind of like Toms shoes for solar-tech. From water-recycling showers to WakaWaka’s solar-powered devices, it’s always exciting to see products coming onto the market that not only help people in wealthier countries, but improve the quality of life in developing countries, as well. The team at WakaWaka wants to provide advanced solar technology at a low price. They feel that solar power is not only greener but safer, too. Kerosene lamps are a preferred source of light in many third-world countries, often leading to burns and house fires. Clean, sustainable, and affordable energy is the way of the future and a lot of the gadgets and gizmos on display at CES fit the bill.  



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