Heads up, urban mobile workers: If you already spend too many brain cycles hunting for available power outlets at coffee shops and dealing with near-dead devices on long road trips, then AMPL Lab’s latest creation is totally your bag.
The AMPL SmartBackpack is a backpack with a mobile power station stashed inside. Charge your devices large and small—phones, cameras, even your laptop—while you haul them on your back. And while you’re walking around, you can monitor and adjust the charging activity via an app on your phone without having to open the pack.
Beginning today, AMPL will start a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Customers will be able to pre-order the bag for $225, with a planned commercial release later in 2015.
So, this is not just another battery bag for storing and charging smart devices. It is itself quite smart. Sensors inside and outside of the SmartBackpack monitor environmental conditions like temperature and push those stats (along with battery level) to an touch-capable OLED screen on the top of the pack, as well the AMPL mobile app for your smartphone. With the app, you can not only monitor conditions, but also check the charging status of your individual devices and prioritize the power allocation to each device depending on its level of importance (the batteries use Qnovo’s adaptive charging tech). Of course, if you’re charging your phone while you walk around, you can keep it plugged in and secure in a holster on the left shoulder strap.
Every bag has an integrated 5,000mAh battery, which has enough juice to charge your smartphone two to three times over. There’s a docking system inside that allows for three more modular batteries, each of which has varying degrees of power and is sold separately: A second 5,000mAh (18.5Wh) battery, a larger 14,900mAh (55Wh) “LaptopBoost” battery, which charges most PC laptops, and a battery/power inverter combo, which you can use to charge a MacBook, or just about anything that plugs into a wall. Configured to the max, you can get up to 147Wh of charge.When you need to recharge the internal packs themselves, you don’t need to remove them from the docking bay. A power cable pulls out of the top of the bag, so you can just plug it into the wall. And if you find yourself in need of a quick boost, the modular batteries work completely independently of the bag. Just undock them and take them along even when you’re leaving the backpack behind.
Internal storage niceties include a hanging tablet sleeve and an adjustable laptop compartment that can be accessed from the top or from the side. The laptop pouch also unzips and lays flat per TSA requirements.
Sounds like one heavy backpack, right? The answer is yes, it’s going be heavier than your standard cloth or canvas backpack. However, AMPL has taked the weight of the components into consideration and adjusted the exterior material to lighten the load significantly. The exterior fabric will also be treated with a hydrophobic, water-resistant coating.
This isn’t a pack for casual commuters. If you’re only spending an hour or two per day away from an outlet whilst in your car or on a train, the SmartBackpack probably isn’t a great fit for you. It’s also on the spendy side—it’s $225 for the Indiegogo Earlybird special, but then moves to $250 after two days.
But if you live for the long haul, or if you work out of coffee shops, or if you’re just a power user who frequently finds her phone or laptop at 19 percent before 3 pm, take note. Really the AMPL is for anyone tired of doing “battery math” and meticulously budgeting device usage instead of getting the most from gadgets meant to enhance—not complicate—the mobile lifestyle.