Ann Makosinski’s resume already includes first prize in her age group at the 2013 Google Science Fair, two Tonight Show appearances, and a mug that uses heat energy to charge your phone. And now, Popular Science has named her their young inventor of the year.
Of all her accomplishments “eDrink” is likely the University of British Columbia student’s biggest claim to fame. The secret behind the phone-charging mug is a layer of peltier tiles that use the temperature differences between their two sides to generate electricity. Users can harness this energy by plugging their phones into the USB port on the bottom of the cup and sip their coffee as it charges. eDrink produces enough electricity to charge a phone for 30 minutes at a time.
Makosinski was inspired to invent the high-tech mug after noticing her friends were always low on phone power. She also noticed that their coffee was taking too long to cool down, so she decided to solve both problems with one innovative solution.
Figuring out how to harness electricity from the heat wasn’t too much of a stretch for Makosinski. She already had experience working with peltier tiles to create a heat-powered flashlight, which runs on the body heat released from your hand as you hold it. That invention earned her a $25,000 scholarship in 2013 while her new gadget won her a $50,000 Quest Climate Change Grant from Shell this past December.
As for what’s next on the horizon, the 18-year-old has said she’d like to get both her mug and flashlight into stores (especially those in developing countries) sometime this year. In the meantime, she also has classwork on her plate.