Would overcoming Africa’s digital divide help tackle the more fundamental development gap?
Trevor Baylis OBE, Inventor of the wind-up radio
Trevor Baylis’ varied career has seen him swimming for Great Britain, a stunt man and a circus performer in Berlin, before eventually focusing on his gift for inventing. In 1985 Trevor invented and developed a range of products for the disabled called Orange Aids.
In 1991, after watching a programme on the spread of HIV-AIDs in Africa, Trevor Baylis set about developing the world’s first wind-up radio.His first working prototype ran for 14 minutes and in 1994 was featured on BBC Tomorrow’s World TV programme. Following this foreign investors came on board and he Trevor formed a company called Baylis Generators, later BayGen and then Freeplay. The Freeplay radio was awarded the BBC Design Award for Best Product Design in 1996, the year that Trevor travelled to South Africa to meet the then President, Nelson Mandela. He was awarded the OBE in 1997.
In May 1998 Trevor went on a tour of African states, lecturing for the British Council, in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Today Baylis Brands produces a range of products using wind-up technology, most recently the Eco Media player, deemed by Stephen Fry ‘better than the iPod’. Baylis Brands also helps inventors to protect and patent their ideas and inventions and get them to market using their network of industrial contacts.
“The most effective way to get information to people in Africa was through radio, but a lot of Africa doesn’t have electricity and batteries are too expensive” Trevor Baylis
“I went to a village in Botswana to present them with a radio, when I turned on this little radio it suddenly became a theatre in a stange was, it was awesome” Trevor Baylis
“Wind-up technology is so extensive. The wind-up torch came off the back of the radio, and wind-up chargers for mobile phones. Wind-up computers will soon come about” Trevor Baylis
Featured image: Martin Bekerman @martinbekerman / Unsplash
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