Tag Archives: Freeplay

Trevor Baylis: a CBE in the New Year Honours list

Trevor Baylis (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Trevor Baylis (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Inventor of the clockwork radio, Trevor Baylis, has been made a CBE in the New Year Honors list.

Mr. Baylis very much deserves this honor as his inventions have directly and indirectly fueled many self-powered innovations we enjoy today.

I’m honored to have spoken with Mr. Baylis over the years; he’s a brilliant, caring fellow with a sharp mind for solving problems and inventing solutions. Indeed, his advice has been invaluable for my charity, Ears To Our World. [Thank you, Trevor!]

I’m proud to own an original Freeplay/BayGen clockwork radio; somehow, winding up this radio and listening to it play from that released energy never gets old. Indeed, it’s still magic to me.


Read the full news item about Trevor Baylis at the BBC News Technology site:

Inventor Trevor Baylis has been made a CBE in the New Year Honours list.

Best known for creating the Baygen wind-up radio, Mr Baylis was honoured for services to intellectual property.

Throughout his colourful life, which involved a stint as a stuntman, Mr Baylis has spent much of his time inventing or involved with engineering.

Most recently he has campaigned to make the UK a more hospitable place for inventors, and is seeking to help them safeguard their creations.

Continue reading on the BBC website…

Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind-up radio, fights for patent rights

Trevor Baylis with an original BayGen clockwork radio (Photo source: The Telegraph)

Trevor Baylis with an original BayGen clockwork radio (Photo source: The Telegraph)

The Telegraph reports that British inventor Trevor Baylis, now 75, who created the first wind-up radio, is unfortunately struggling with patent laws in the UK. The eccentric gentleman (Trevor, I mean this as a compliment) cites the lack of government protection for inventors’ rights in Britain; unlike in the US and other countries, where patent theft is considered a criminal offense, in the UK it is merely a civil one.  Meanwhile, Bayliss, who has received many honorary degrees for his work, and an OBE from the Prince of Wales, is currently in a bit of a financial struggle.

This is sad.  Radio truly owes Trevor Baylis a great debt of gratitude; his invention spawned an era of self-powered technologies such as those we use at Ears To Our World, that have brought life-saving information and lighting to the most rural, remote parts of the world.  He has truly made a difference to people’s lives, especially where there’s no reliable access to electricity.

I still keep an original BayGen radio at my house, just like the one Baylis is pictured with above. It’s an amazing invention, indeed–loud, clear, room-filling shortwave audio from a radio that doesn’t require batteries; only a little winding, as simple as winding your wrist watch, delivers this remarkable sound.

The Telegraph tells the evolution of the BayGen radio into the Freeplay radio, and then Bayliss’ loss of revenue as the original patent for the clockwork radio was not honored when Freeplay began using the same mechanism, with a modification, to charge an internal battery. Ironically, Freeplay spawned The Freeplay Foundation, now known as Lifeline Energy,  a worthy organization with the goal of helping others.  And obviously, Baylis is not financial guru:  he did sell his shares in Freeplay and parted ways with the organization over a decade ago.

But to be fair, Baylis is an inventor, not a businessman.  I can see his side of the argument:  if you wish to build your life around inventing, your creations and intellectual property need to be properly protected. It should not require another degree–or another full time job–simply to protect your ideas.  If Baylis’ inventions had been properly guarded, he would probably still be churning out inventions at age 75 instead of fighting to keep his house and to protect other inventors from the same fate. Baylis–and The Telegraph, in turn–are placing the focus on beefing-up the patent laws in the UK to help protect innovations. In Baylis’ case, I believe it may be a lack of international protection that has had an effect on his bottom line.

How can we help Trevor Baylis?  We’re determined to find a way.  Stay tuned…

Meanwhile, click here to read the article in The Telegraph.

Many thanks to Ed Cummings for sending the Telegraph link!

Shower powered radio

(Source: The Telegraph)

The man who helped turn the Wind-Up Radio into a global success in the 1990s has invented a radio that is powered by the motion of water flowing into a shower.

The H20 water-powered radio clips onto the water pipe that runs up to a shower head. Using micro turbine technology, the radio is powered by the water pressure running up a pipe.

[…]Tango hopes that the waterproof radio will enjoy the same success as the Wind-Up Radio. The H20 was invented by Vivian Black, a former director of Freeplay Energy Group, which helped turn Trevor Baylis’s Wind-UP Radio into a commercial success in the 1990s.

While shower-powered radio is certainly an inventive use of flowing water, I seriously doubt the technology will enjoy the overwhealming success of wind-up radio. Wind-up or crank-powered energy generation can be used pretty much anytime, anywhere.  It’s also a very appropriate technology for the developing world.

In situations where one lacks access to power, there will most likely be a lack of water. However, for those of us who love listening to radio in the shower, this may be worth the investment. (I do wonder if how “green” this product will be if it keeps you in the shower a bit longer.)