Pedal Power Your Phone!

pedal phone power

Photo credit: Indianapolis Airport Authority

Name two essential things about meetings. The list can be fairly long, actually, but we’ll nominate communication and well-being. Well, now attendees can multitask them together.

It’s called a human-powered charging station. If you’ve been through Indianapolis International Airport (IND) lately, you may have seen one of them on Concourse B. It’s a three-seated kiosk without wheels that charges your cellphone or other electronic device—thus becoming an enabler of communication—as you pedal away (the well-being part) between being stuck in an airplane. You can also find them at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLO) in Arizona and Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Southern California.

The units are made by WeWatt, a Belgian company, and are a hit in Europe at airports, railroad stations, shopping malls and universities.

But you don’t have to buy one. You can rent one for your next event.

That’s the offering of an Oakland, California-based company called Rock the Bike.  Its version of a bike recharge station is available in four bright colors and looks more like a stationary exercise bike with a desktop where the handle bars usually are located. “That was on purpose,” says Brittany Rowles, director of sales and customer experience. “We want to get people inspired to get on bikes again.”

Rock the Bike’s base price is roughly $600 per day for one bike (the charge varies depending on number of bikes rented, number of days and shipping distance). For an extra $450, you can brand the wheel. Or you could upgrade to a readout that provides live pedaling stats, including instantaneous wattage and accumulated energy. Its version charges eight phones (or any device that can be connected by a USB cable) at a time and it sparks the kinds of informal conversations and networking that draw people to conferences, concerts and meeting in the first place, Rowles says.

For best results, Rowles adds, a coach can “help people feel more relaxed and comfortable, plugging in their phones and adjusting the seat to the right height for new riders.” A Pedalometer shows users how fast to pedal to maintain consistent charging—which works as fast as the latest wall-powered chargers.

“It’s not like the cardio machines at the gym,” Rowles maintains. “Talking and pedaling is very doable, even while charging eight phones.”