Sony announced Monday it will sell a large power pack to run home appliances when the electricity goes out.
The boxy device sits just over a foot (35 centimeters) high and can run a 40-inch LCD TV for about two and a half hours or charge a smartphone 30 times, according to the company. The "Home Energy Server" will initially launch in Japan next month, with a target price of 150,000 yen (US$2,000), and will eventually be sold internationally as well.
Power outages are an ongoing concern in Japan nearly six months after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated a large swathe of the country's eastern seaboard, leaving 20,000 dead or missing. The twin disasters knocked out power in many areas, triggering meltdowns at a key nuclear reactor as well as safety shutdowns at others. Power companies have implemented rolling blackouts when demand for electricity outstrips supply.
"We'd been planning a product like this for some time, but accelerated our launch in light of the March 11 earthquake. We originally were going to launch in 2012 or 2013," said Sony spokesman Jin Tomihari.
The power pack takes around 6 hours to charge and provides about 300 watt-hours on a full charge, with two power sockets on its front end. Tomihari said the company tried to make it suitable for use in disasters, printing the instructions directly on the device and making it relatively portable, weighing about 26.5 pounds (12 kilograms).
It uses lithium-ion batteries built by Sony that will last over 10 years with daily use, the company said.
Sony previously announced a higher capacity model for business use, but this is its first such product aimed at everyday households. The company is currently displaying the product at international trade shows.
"We are planning to launch this product in other locations, but have not decided on any specific country or date," Tomihari said.