Seoul citizens using water power to charge their handsets outdoors

Outdoor-loving citizens of Seoul now have a new way to charge their mobile devices thanks to forward-thinking city officials.

The innovative scheme involves five charging booths set up along Cheonggyecheon, a narrow waterway running through the downtown area of the South Korean capital. The booths, which started operating Wednesday, draw their power not from the power grid but from a hydropower station set up beside the waterway.

The project is the brainchild of startup Innomad, which used funds raised in an online campaign to develop its idea before presenting it to local government.

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Innomad says users will have to wait around for between two and three hours if they want to fully charge their mobile device, though a short stop will be enough for most people looking to get just a couple of battery bars showing again.

“The small-scale hydropower generation facility minimizes negative effects on the environment as it produces electricity without dams or barrages,” a Seoul official told the Korea Herald this week, adding, “It requires only simple turbines.”

If the three-month trial proves popular with locals and visitors, the city promises to add more booths to the station over time, and may even expand the service to other waterways in the city.

[Via engadget]