GravityLight: A Far leap from Newton’s Apple

The story goes, “One day, in the year 1666, Newton, retired to Woolsthorpe, England, where while staring into the open country, He observed an apple fall from the tree. Newton, meditating on this seemingly mundane event, began to query the cause that draws all bodies in a line which, if prolonged, would pass nearly close through the centre of the earth." Suffice it to say, this became the story upon which the theory of gravitation is told.

Fast forward to 2015, Wanjiku, a 10 year old Kenyan girl retires home to her homework after playing with her friends at about 6:30pm. The blue skies have gone dark and she sits quietly meditating on how she will do her homework with no light. She thinks of getting the old kerosene tin popularly referred to as a ‘koroboi’, but she remembers that her mother tossed it out recently. She reaches up for her school bag and pulls it down toward her, alas, there is light – thanks to GravityLight.

GravityLight is an innovative off-grid light designed to eliminate dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps, used by over 1.3 billion people who don’t have access to electricity. The product is unique – designed by Jim Reeves and Martin Riddiford, it has created a new category of lighting, which doesn’t have any batteries nor need the sun - all you need is a weight!

How it works

Once GravityLight is installed and a 12kg weight – a bag of rocks or sand is attached, it’s ready to go, anytime. The weight is lifted by pulling down on a bead cord. On release, the weight falls very slowly, transforming potential energy into kinetic energy as it powers a drive sprocket and polymer gear train. This generates just under a tenth of a watt, to power an onboard LED and ancillary devices.

Once the weighted bag reaches the floor, which depends on how high it was installed, it is simply lifted to repeat the process. This means it’s a very promising solution for emergency relief and disaster preparedness too, as it can be stored for long periods of time and can be used anytime, anywhere, whatever the weather.

After encouraging global field trials of the GL01 version, a new model of GravityLight – GL02, is exclusively available through its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign dubbed ‘GravityLight: Made in Africa’, where the team is raising funds to establish an assembly line in Kenya. This initiative will not only be seeking to improve energy access in the country but also provide jobs to several Kenyans.

Of the new GravityLight design, Jim Reeves says, “We also gathered insights on what needed improving, which has led us to design GL02 –a brighter, easier to use, longer lasting model that we’re confident is a game changer.”

The campaign has exceeded their $199k goal from over 2,700 backers, with time still running on the live campaign (18 July). They are now aiming to reach their stretch goal of $299k, which will enable them to develop a radio, which will be powered by GravityLight.

To find out more about the campaign click here.