Wish we’d thought of that: Stower, iPhones roasting on an open fire

Humans have some developed some ingenious ways to create electricity, from blocking rivers, to burning old trees to creating nuclear reactions inside concrete towers.

Last week we covered a product that charged your phone through the use of inbuilt solar panels on the screen. But what if it’s dark and you need that sweet, sweet mobile hit during your camping trip? Fear not, phone addicts, for there is a solution: flame-powered, USB-delivered electricity.

As Maslow’s updated hierarchy of need shows, battery life and Wifi are now integral to survival.

Image: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs‎, revised

Stower can’t help with the signal, but by harnessing the laws of thermoelectrics it can help keep the bars up.

Its first product, the FlameStower, works with any open flame, and, after reaching its Kickstarter target, is selling for US$99. Its new Candle Charger, which requires a small amount of water and very little heat, has also been funded on Kickstarter and retails for $89.

Some may feel it’s better just to turn your phone off when you’re in the wilderness, but the appropriately named founder Andrew Burns has a pretty good response: "I'd rather send a text from the top of a mountain than from a desk in my office.”

And while it is aimed mostly at charging phones, it can also charge cameras, torches and other small devices and the company touts its potential during power cuts (or zombie apocalypses). 

While those in the developed world might use this technology to continue listening to the camping playlist on Spotify as the owls hoot and the sausages cook, Stower sees plenty of potential in the developing world, where there is still a lot of cooking over flame and a legitimate demand for sustainable micro-energy solutions, particularly for lighting.