by Liz Clark
British inventor Trevor Baylis, creator of the world's first clockwork radio, recently won the BBC Design Award and has been endorsed by more than 20 international humanitarian organisations.
Built to withstand most climatic conditions, the radio, which requires no batteries, gives 30-40minutes of clear listening time after only 20 seconds of winding.
Baylis developed the radio so that it could be used in areas with no electricity. He based his initial ideas on the way that old-fashioned wind-up gramophones work. He had been moved by television reports about the spread of AIDs in Africa and suggestions that vital health information could not be easily spread there by radio because of the cost of batteries.
The radio works on a similar principle to an alarm clock, except that - unlike the clock - when wound for about 20 seconds, electricity is generated and the radio stores and distributes the power constantly over a period of time. The BBC's World Service, realising the importance of the invention, helped to get it featured on the BBC-TV programme "Tomorrow's World" which looks at innovations from all over the world. Financial support for the project was given by the Government's Overseas Development Administration and approval for it came from the President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
About 20,000 of the radios, known as Freeplay, are being produced in South Africa every month and there is a demand for many times that amount. Many are being bought by relief agencies such as the International Red Cross and UNICEE Working on the Freeplay radio project inspired Trevor Baylis to new ideas. One was to get support for a new royal academy for inventors and innovation that would help to promote British ideas and provide a practical bridge between the inventor and getting a product into the market place.
For more information contact:
BayGen Power Manufacturing
13 King Henry Tower, Sovereign Close, London, England, Efl 9HE.
Tel: +44 171 702 3247 | Fax: +44 171 702 324