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Cycling, Technology

Pedal power

Pedal powered sewing machine; image Jonathan McIntosh

HG Wells, he of the Time Machine and War of the Worlds fame, was a keen advocate of cycling.

He once said:

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.

As a fan of the humble bike, I tend to agree with him. So I think he would have got rather a kick out of the ever-so-brilliant Low Tech Magazine.

The online antidote to hi-tech ran a great article about pedal power – not in the cycling sense, but in the mechanical transference of power via pedals.

Essentially the article is about the ways in which this familiar tried-and-tested technology can be used to create simple, usable tools for use in the developing world and in, what it terms, the postcarbon future.

At first it all seems so Heath Robinson-esque.  Something straight out of a Nick Park script for Wallace and Gromit.

But when you discover the uses to which the technology has been put to, you tend to see just how creatively brilliant it all is.

Coffee-bean grinders, powering welders, smoothie makers, winches are just some of the uses for pedaltech.  It reminded me a little of the Open Source hardware talk on TED a few weeks back.

Technology is often about adapting existing hardware to create innovative solutions to real-world problems.

You won’t often see a better example of technology in action.

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