New Products. New Companies. And…Finding Humor in All Situations. 3 Great Reasons to Look Forward to What 2009 Has in Store

I'm pretty excited about 2009.  There is so much happening out there.  New products.  New companies.  And well…funny stuff.  Here are 3 great reasons to be excited for what 2009 has in store for us:

1) Sustainable, alternative energy technologies are making their way into consumer products.  Check out HYmini

Hymini both

HYmini is a handheld, universal charger/adapter device that harnesses renewable wind power / solar power and conventional wall plug power to recharge almost all your 5V digital gadgets.  $49.99 for the wind.  $24.99 for the solar. 

Husqvarna Automower Solar Hybrid

Check out Husqvarna's solar powered Automower (hat tip: Roshan Thomas' blog)  It's like a Roomba, but solar powered and for your lawn.  From the Husqvarna website: "Automower Solar Hybrid uses only the same amount of energy as a standard light bulb and is constructed from 90% recyclable material. It’s also been calculated that using Automower Solar Hybrid to cut the lawn in an average garden can save 40 hours of labour every year – the equivalent of an extra week’s holiday".  Price is $3000-$3500.  Pricey — but cool.

SolarGorilla Solar Charger

Solargorilla's laptop charger (hat tip: Roshan Thomas' blog) is freeing us from outlets.  With folks working on city and regionwide WiFi, and products like Solargorilla's out there, how long until we can truly take our work almost anywhere?  If we find ourselves working in "nature" more often, will that give us cause to think about nature more? 

  • Solar Gorilla is compatible with most notebooks, iPod, iPhone, PDAs, MP3/MP4, handheld games consoles, Sat Navs, Nokia, Mini Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG & Sony Ericsson and many standard cellphones.
  • Portable, fold-up design protects your solar panels when stored
  • 20V power socket out and standard 5v USB socket
  • Neoprone zip case (with additional compartment for tips)

Price range: $250-$280

Generally, products like these are still at the early adopter stage.  Many are still too expensive for mass market.  However, as these devices continually improve in functionality, ease-of-use, and price point, they will likely reach an ever-growing number of consumers. Consumers' gadgets will be increasingly powered through sustainable forms of energy in 2009.

2) New start-ups, and more importantly, empassioned, capable people, are tackling major, global challenges by providing products and services that will help to ensure that the remarkable developments of this century can support us far into the future.  A few pieces of evidence? 

  • Virgance:  Led by Steve Newcomb, a seasoned silicon valley entrepreneur, and Brent Schulkin, a young, enthusiastic, and creative entrepreneurial prodigy, Virgance is a for-profit company that takes new activism ideas and uses the power of online social networks to scale each idea into a large-scale, citizen-powered global campaign to improve the world. Founded in May 2008, Virgance is releasing a series of products that focus on using online social networks to create positive social change. 

Virgance's latest products/services:

  • 1Bog: 1Bog is a nationwide, community-based program that organizes residents locally (via the internet) and negotiates group discounts with solar installers, to help residents purchase and install solar panel systems on their homes.  In their first campaign, 1BOG was responsible for 20% of all San Francisco properties that converted to solar in the fourth quarter of 2008. We project a 300% increase within the first quarter of 2009.
  • Carrotmob: Carrotmob is a method of activism that leverages consumer power to make the most socially-responsible business practices also the most profitable choices. Businesses compete with one another to see who can do the most good, and then a big mob of consumers buys products in order to reward whichever business made the strongest commitment to improve the world.  View the video of their latest campaign.

Designers' Accord: Made up of over 100,000 members and representing 100 countries, the Designers Accord is a global coalition of designers, educators, researchers, engineers, and corporate leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact.  Their vision?  To integrate the principles of sustainable design into all practice and production.  By teaching designers how to practically incorporate principles of sustainable design into products at their inception, we will begin to see a gradual reduction in the problems we need to clean up after 2009.

It's a recession.  Many will hunker down, reduce risk-taking activities, and do what they have to do to survive.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, many will also see this as a great time to change course, take on a new challenge, and take a risk to solve problems.  In many ways, the opportunity cost of starting a company has decreased.  People that would otherwise be out making a good salary and have good job prospects right now, are finding that this isn't something they will be missing out on if they take a chance.  Also, scarcity often breeds creativity.  Jack Ma described the success of his $1.5 billion dollar IPO of, as coming from circumstances like these:

There were three reasons why we survived. We had no money, we had no technology, and we had no plan. Every dollar, we used very carefully.

Thankfully, some of my favorite business bloggers will continue helping us all to share valuable insights and resources with each other (Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Dan Harris of ChinaLawBlog, Tim Ferriss, and DesignSojourn). 

3) And finally, sense of humor doesn't go out of style, even in a recession.  I saw this short video before and loved it.  It's classic and worth checking out on this blog.

Happy 2009.