Wind-up radio is a hit

THE British company that devised a wind-up radio for the Third World has been deluged with inquiries from manufacturers interested in working with it to create clockwork Walkmans, torches and computer games.

"The radio is not the end of the story but the start," says Chris Staines, chief executive of BayGen, based in London, which makes the radios. "We want somebody with a lot of money and technical resources to take this to an international level. In developed countries, the market potential and possibilities for everyday small portable items are huge."

The radios, which were featured on the BBC's science programme QED last week, can run for an hour from two minutes' winding. They are the brainchild of Trevor Baylis, who saw the potential usefulness of a non-electric power source for the Third World. About 20,000 per month will be made in South Africa for sale there.

But in Britain they have also sparked enormous interest. Harrods, which will be selling them from October, says that hundreds of people have rung up to order them since the programme was shown. "I suppose there must have been another product that created this response, but I can't think of what," said a spokeswoman. "And the profile of the people contacting us is different from those who usually buy radios, who are older. These are young, and interested in it from a green perspective."

Harrods has been allocated thousands of the radios for sale by the end of the year. But now Mr Staines is looking further ahead. "Trevor had three years of frustration in trying to get to this stage," he says. "The initial investment to get to here was about pounds 250,000 in the UK and pounds 600,000 in Africa. Now we need about 10 times that to step up so that there's a whole family of products."

BayGen's European managing director, Barney West, reports a flood of inquiries from British and foreign companies eager to exploit the technology. The clockwork systems work by slowly and constantly releasing energy stored in a spring and converting it into electricity to power equipment. In the radio, the spring assembly is about as big as a fist. "But we could already make it smaller and lighter, though not yet miniaturised," says Mr West.

BayGen has already spoken to Battelle, a US company, about the possibility of making a miniature version of the spring mechanism and says it has been in talks with toy manufacturers for more than nine months.

A manufacturer with sufficient technical resources might be able to crack any problems that emerge, reckons Mr Staines. "This could work for anything that's portable, doesn't have large power requirements and uses batteries," he says. "A Sony or a Samsung that makes a range of electrical products would be an ideal sort of partner." But he declines to name companies that have so far got in touch. "It could even work for a battery company; we're never going to make a serious dent in their sales worldwide."

Products such as hand-held clockwork Gameboys would be ideal, he says: "Maybe one day sales of those would outstrip that of radios 10 to one".

Suggested Topics
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments