In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.
The most frustrating products are the ones that have such simple ideas, you're upset that it hasn't been done before -- or that you weren't the one that came up with it. No idea is so simple as the brilliant Ray solar charger. A mobile phone juicer that comes with a kickstand and built-in suction cup so that it's nearly always pointed right at the sun. If you think that sounds like simple madness or genius, click past the break to find out why it could be worth your investment.
Most solar chargers are little more than candy bar batteries with solar cells slapped on top. This means you have to play the tilting dance when the sun moves across the day. Window-mounting options are no better. Amazon's biggest seller in this category: Accessory Power's ReVIVE, has two rubber sucker pads that attach straight onto the solar cells, obscuring a big chunk of the area you're meant to be putting into direct sunlight -- far from ideal.
In comparison, Ray's greatest strength is its flexibility. Stick it to a car window (use your best judgement as to which one) or use the kickstand to point it towards the low winter sun without balancing it awkwardly on piles of books. Not bundling ten or twenty unnecessary proprietary connectors saves money and resources -- just use whatever USB cable comes with your phone. Fortunately the kickstand also serves as a tidy for your unruly wires. The battery will store enough to "fully charge a phone" and LEDs will keep you abreast of progress.
Previous project update:
Best of all, this quirky (ahem) piece of technology has a pre-sale price of $40 -- less than the pre-discount prices of similar chargers from Accessory Power or Lenmar. Window mounts and kickstands are available, but none of them can match the Ray for an elegant execution that makes you want to tote it around wherever you go.
PhaserTape, the laser range-finger
for iPhones has got 67 backers, pledging $2,345 -- which means you clearly didn't do your part. Kidding.