I spent my formative years using up AA batteries at a frenzied pace, and I can’t count the number of times my parents said they wished they could zap my trusty Game Boy dead. While there’s nothing they can do to salvage my childhood now, the folks at Vonkil Technologies have worked up something that should help a new generation of parents remotely kill toys at will.
Enter the Batthead, the star of a new Kickstarter campaign that wants to make your rechargeable AA batteries much, much smarter.
Here’s the concept in a nutshell: they have essentially taken a rechargeable AA battery and crammed a Bluetooth 4.0 radio and an accelerometer into it. You probably see where this is going — thanks to a companion app, users can remotely enable and disable those batteries in a bid to preserve more power for when it’s really needed. Of course, parents can don their troll hats and remotely shut down their kids’ toys from afar using their iOS devices (the Vonkil team says that Android support is in the works too).
The accelerometer adds a curious bit of awareness to the fold, as users can set the batteries to activate only when they’re moved or oriented in a certain position. I can already hear you murmuring about the questionable value that brings to the table, but the notion of a flashlight that turns on automatically when you pick it up still strikes me as awfully neat.
Now I can’t blame you if this all sounds a little familiar. A seemingly similar concept called the TetherCell was successfully Kickstarted earlier this year (although backers are still waiting for those first shipments to go out). The big difference though comes down to execution: while the TetherCell is also remotely controllable from an iOS device, the fact that the product itself is just a sleeve that wraps around a AAA battery means there’s only so much the team could physically squeeze into the thing. Since the Batthead contains a rechargeable cell in addition to that slew of sensors, we’re ultimately left with a more capable power source.
Of course, there are some caveats to be aware of. Don’t go expecting these things to outperform your trusty set of Eneloops, for one. The team hasn’t yet disclosed that rechargeable cell’s capacity yet (I’ve reached out and will update the post if and when they do), but I can’t imagine that longevity hasn’t taken a hit considering how much space all those other bits must take up. And then there’s the price differential to consider, too — a single, early-run Batthead without an accelerometer will set you back $19 CAD, while the fully tricked out version will cost you $40 CAD. Not exactly the most cost-effective way to power your myriad remote controls, but it just may be worth it for some tinkerers and connected home buffs out there.