You may have seen coworkers use standing desks, and here at Business Insider we’ve even tested a treadmill desk, but a tiny upstate New York startup has come up with an alternative work space that tops them all.
Developed by a two-man team called Pedal Power, the Big Rig is a bicycle desk that generates an electrical current as you pedal.
The energy generated by pedaling is enough to power your computer, charge your phone, and perform other office-related tasks. Plus, the design is stable enough that you may actually be able to get some work done.
Building their machine into a desk isn’t the only thing Pedal Power has in mind, however. In fact, that wasn’t even the idea behind the duo’s original human-powered machine, which they built back in 2008.
“Part of the motivation at that point was the major oil crisis, and energy was on everyone’s mind. And we were thinking about our impact on this planet and what we were doing about it,” Steve Blood, one of the founders of the project, explained to Business Insider. “We wanted to set out to make something that could do a variety of tasks.”
So far, those other tasks have included pumping water, chopping wood, and churning butter. Blood and cofounder Andy Wekin even developed a custom milling machine to help a nearby farm cut costs.
“A lot of these applications are in Vermont, the Lake Champlain area, and the Adirondacks, where a lot of people are doing homesteading and small-scale farms, and they come to us for these sorts of requests,” Wekin said. “We started the idea that we could do a human-powered plant, and then people came to us.”
Check out this video that shows off all of the machine’s capabilities.
The two of them build each machine together by hand, though Wekin, who comes from an engineering background, claims that he may weld a little more cleanly than Blood, who did not.
They hope to one day get the machine manufactured, especially since the current $US2,000 price tag is pretty steep.
The Pedal Power team launched a Kickstarter back in August with the hopes of bringing their idea to a wider audience. They raised three times the amount they had hoped for, in addition to a huge increase in orders. And now that their campaign has brought so much attention to the project, they’re focusing on making the machine quieter, since its squeaky bicycle sound may make it less appealing to office workers.
An obvious benefit to using the Pedal Power machine is the extra movement it requires, which workers sitting at desks all day would appreciate. Doing something as simple as charging a phone requires little exertion, while churning water will give you a better workout.
However, Blood and Wekin both say that the ability to create clean energy is the best part of their machine.
“When you start to generate your own electricity, it gives you a very tangible understanding of how much energy you use and how hard it is to produce it,” Blood said.
Wekin agreed: “It starts to give them this appreciation for what we take for granted when we flip a light switch or use something that’s just plugged into the wall. Increasing awareness is a nice thing that’s come out of this project.”
Watch their Kickstarter campaign video here.