Crowdsourcing has liberated inventors, designers, and engineers to think beyond commercial norms…occasionally way outside of the creative box and into the realm of unique “what if?” ideas. Designer/engineer Gianluca Gamba’s Bluetooth speaker definitely falls under the category of left-field design, an audio piece which combines the features of a Bluetooth wireless speaker with the elegance of a tabletop tea light. But the real magic isn’t “what” this speakers does, but “how” it does it.
Believe it or not, a candlelight flame is the Pelty speaker’s intended power source. Utilizing a thermoelectric phenomena discovered by French physicist Jean-Charles-Athanase Peltier, the “Peltier effect” allows the creation of thermoelectric voltage formed between the junction of two different types of materials; the temperature difference results in an electron flow resulting in just enough electricity to power a small speaker.
Although considered a mediocre source of power, the design has been refined by Gamba to continuously produce an electric current sufficient to power the Pelty’s 12 watt amplifier and a small 3″ speaker from a single tealight flame. Supposedly the result is audio volumes “comparable to any other Bluetooth speaker”. Bluetooth connectivity allows the Pelty’s volume to be controlled by any modern smartphone or tablet, conceived as an ideal accessory for romantic entertaining, whether indoors or outdoors, and an embodiment of Gamba’s goal of creating a product encompassing “technology, design and poetry” with an Italian’s spirit.
Complementing the Pelty’s unusual power source is an elegant choice in material and colors. No plastics here: handmade Italian ceramic and glass, available in eight color finishes, alongside the option to personalize the individually handmade flame-powered device with a name or sentence. Ceramic is an ideal choice for both its acoustic properties and for use with high temperatures.
The Pelty is unlikely to become the next Jambox or Bose, but its very unusual power source design, mood-enhancing character, and unobtrusive wireless flexibility might make it the sort of conversation piece which attracts those seeking something remarkably different from the status quo.