Introducing the smallest phone charger in the world

Two university students have created a tiny £12 charger which uses nothing more than AA batteries to give your phone a boost on the go

Ever been at a festival and had to stand in a queue for hours to charge your phone at great expense? Or been camping and found yourself with no battery, miles from the nearest plug? A key ring could be the answer to all your problems this summer.

Two students from Brunel University have created the world’s smallest phone charger, capable of boosting your charge on the go using just two AA batteries and a magnet.

The latest offering in wearable tech, this tiny charger – called ‘The Nipper’ – weighs in at 10 grams and is small enough to fit on a key ring or be shoved into a pocket or handbag.

“Bringing the Nipper along with you in your everyday life should be intuitive – when all else fails, in situations where you desperately need to use your phone but have no access to laptops, electrical sockets, wind turbines or solar panels the Nipper will be there for you,” says Chris Tait, who along with his business partner Doug Stokes launched the product straight out of university in April after entering a national competition to find the best ‘everyday fix’ gadget.

Newly graduated product design and engineering students, Tait and Stokes entered the competition – run by insurance company Direct Line – on a whim with an idea they came up with at the kitchen table of their student digs the night before the pitch.

Days later, they had won backing to commercialise the product and their new company – appropriately named ‘Design on Impulse’ – was up and running in Somerset House.

Mr Stokes says: “One moment we were doing our finals and the next we were in the centre of London, working on a product we’d come up with in our flat which we’d been given support to make into a reality.

“A lot of people who have just graduated are spending the summer travelling or trying to find a job and move out of home. But being able to go straight from university to working in Somerset House every day, where you’ve got Parliament on one side and St Paul’s on the other, is pretty amazing.”

With a variety of colours up for grabs, as well as the option to get a leather strap, gold-plated neodymium magnets, or even have it embossed with your name, Tait and Stokes have tapped into the growing obsession with wearable tech, billing their product as a fashion statement as much as a piece of technology.

Many chargers now use a micro-USB connector, meaning one charger can suffice for multiple gadgetsMany chargers now use a micro-USB connector, meaning one charger can suffice for multiple gadgets  Photo: ALAMY

Produced using a 3D printer (what else?), the device is made from two magnets and a micro USB. When you need to charge up on the go, you simply place two AA batteries between the magnets and plug it into your phone.

Mr Tait says: “It attaches to your key ring and needs only a couple of AA batteries to power it so it’s not so much a portable charger as it is an emergency power source that you carry with you all the time.

“Wherever you are in the world, whether hiking a trail, in a festival campsite or a foreign city, you should be able to either find somewhere that sells AA batteries or pop them out of a torch or remote control.

“Every corner shop, camping store and festival stall should sell them. They’re cheap and readily available and don’t require you to be anywhere near a plug.”

'It’s not so much a portable charger as it is an emergency power source that you carry with you all the time'‘It’s not so much a portable charger as it is an emergency power source that you carry with you all the time’

And with the most basic Nipper costing just £12, the pair have already taken pledges for upwards of £8,000 on Kickstarter since it was launched last week.

The Nipper, which can be used on most Android phones and Kindles, will go into production as soon as the Kickstarter funding comes in next month.

So with hundreds of chargers to manufacture, an iPhone version in the planning stages and a fledgeling business to get off the ground, it’s set to be a pretty big year for these two young graduates.

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