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Appalachian Trail inspires iPhone power, leads to new jobs

Like many great stories, this one starts along the Appalachian Trail.

Making his way down the famed footpath, Tremont Electric, LLC owner Aaron LeMieux realized that his movement was generating loads of kinetic energy, evidenced by the annoying abrasions that appeared where his backpack met his hips. If only there was a way to harness that energy, he mused, and apply it to something more useful than blisters.

A few prototypes later, LeMieux had perfected nPower™, a technology that converts simple motion into electricity. The first commercial application of that technology is the PEG (personal energy generator), a lightweight gadget that can power handheld electronic devices. Slipped into a backpack or purse or briefcase the PEG charges iPhones, Blackberrys or GPS units via USB cable with every step its owner takes.

While other kinetic energy generators exist, none are as elegant, refined or practical as the PEG. Weighing just nine ounces, the slender cylinder-shaped unit charges mobile devices at the same rate as a wall outlet. Goodbye bulky back-up batteries; goodbye dead devices. 

The PEG was a hit at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and Tremont Electric was included in BusinessWeek's recent feature on "America's Most Promising Startups." Production is expected to begin in October of this year, but already there have been over 1,000 preorders online at $149 each.

Jessica Davis, Tremont's director of sustainability, says the Cleveland-based company hopes to add 16 employees in 2010 and twice that by 2011. And those figures don't take into account secondary and tertiary job growth at suppliers.

Source: Jessica Davis
Writer: Douglas Trattner

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