The battery business has never been streamlined. The struggle used to be that your kitchen drawer only had AAs when you needed AAAs. Today, every new device gets its own special charger. It seems like a design flaw that would be easy to fix—instead, companies seem to prefer keeping us in a constant search for power.
Now, one of the most ubiquitous bike light makers—the Australian company Knog—has decided to buck the system. Its latest project is a group of outdoor products that are all powered by the same battery. The so-called Pwr Suite, now on Kickstarter, includes a bike light, bluetooth speaker, camping headlight, and lantern (products that, for the most part, won't be used at the same time). Each device has a slot for the same sleek rechargeable battery, which also doubles as a power bank for charging devices on the go.
Knog isn't the only company trying to simplify the way we use batteries, of course—last year, Tesla announced the release of a solar-fueled powerpack that powers your car and your entire house. Knog also turned to power tool companies like DeWalt and Ryobi for inspiration on creating a more efficient battery that plays more than one role.
"I was always amazed that I could buy three power tools for the price of two when the battery was modular," says Knog CEO and designer Hugo Davidson.
Knog is probably best known for its stretchy silicon bike lights, but the company has expanded outside of bike lights this year: Co.Design covered its new Oi Bike Bell this spring, and the company's new light, Go-Pro light Qudos, is designed for action cameras. "When we started considering [the interchangeable battery] concept as a cornerstone of our new range of products, it soon became clear that the most compelling feature for a consumer was the opportunity to invest in an ecosystem of products, rather than just another bike light," Davidson says.
Unlike the power drills that inspired them, the Pwr suite's devices aren't heavy or bulky. They don't have bright "safety orange" accents like many camping and cycling products. Like all Knog products, they are beautifully and thoughtfully designed: A modular mounting system for the bike light slides it under the handlebars to leave room for other accessories up top. The Bluetooth speaker also mounts to a bike, and the camping lantern comes with two different lighting modes. The headlight uses the same light as the bike version—Knog just threw in a head strap. "We don’t believe that products need to look "outdoorsy" to be used outdoor," says Davidson. "In fact, a fresh look at what products people carry every day illustrates that 'elegance' and 'outdoor' are words that can be used in the same sentence."
If the Kickstarter is a success, the money raised will fund the production of the range, which could later make it into the company's regular production line. Knog will also work on expanding the range to include new products—Davidson says the company would love to do a GPS or camera—and bigger power banks. Think of all the time you'd save not hunting down multiple battery packs. Just don't lose the one that powers them all.