The Febot concept is a solid one. There are other wind-powered chargers in development, like the tent-mounted Orange charger, LG's SkyCharger and the available-for-purchase HYmini. The latter two combine wind power with solar power, and all are chargers for handheld devices like cell phones and MP3 players. They don't rejuice AAs.
That's where Febot comes in. It does seem to fill a niche, since lots of gadgets still run on the little cylinders. In theory, you could just insert a dead battery from your TV remote, walk outside your house and stick a Febot to your living room window. And eventually, you'll have a cleanly recharged battery with which to change the channel from the couch.
The question is, though, when exactly is "eventually"?
No one is saying how long it would take to charge a battery using Febot. Devices like HYmini use supplemental solar power to cut down on charging time.
And while the Orange charger is like the Febot in that it relies exclusively on wind, it also has what may turn out to be a more ideal orientation for capturing that wind. Whereas Orange is mounted above a tent, fully exposed to the wind from all directions, Febot's blades are just inches from the surface the device is mounted on. This raises some questions about how efficiently it'll capture an available gust.
And for those of us who have tried to use suction-cup mounts, there are also some questions about how well Febot will actually stick to a surface when you add in the weight of a battery and force of the wind.
Still, Febot has a lot going for it as a battery charger. Beyond relying exclusively on clean power, it's lighter and smaller than current devices that recharge AA batteries, so it could be a lot easier to travel with. Ultimately, this prototype could prove to be more a jumping-off point than a truly marketable device. But we shouldn't underestimate jumping-off points. They're where alternative-energy innovations begin.
For more information on Febot and related topics, look over the links on the next page.