Next Thursday,  I’ll be attending the Greener Gadgets Conference, the third annual celebration of geeked-out green gadgetry and eco-conscious innovation. It’s going to be a jam-packed day full of excellent exhibitors and speakers (I’m particularly looking forward to the ‘Green Living Begins at Home’ talks) and I’m thrilled to be there reporting and repping MNN.

If you’re familiar with Greener Gadgets, you probably know that the centerpiece of the conference is the Design Competition; the announcement of the winning design concludes the conference in the evening, keeping everyone in suspense all day long. A motley crew of awesome finalists has been selected via public voting and on Thursday it’s up to a team of judges to pick one winner (last year it was the Tweet-A-Watt). 
For the next few days, I’ll be previewing a few of my favorite finalist designs that will be vying for the top prize at Greener Gadgets. Let’s start with the design that received my vote: Rocco, the Energy Pal.
Designed by the U.S.-based team of Aaron Tsui, Irina Kozlovskaya, Jasen Mehta and Sergio Silvia, Rocco is a modern update on traditional rocking horse toys with a fabulous greentech twist: when in motion, Rocco (he’s made from nontoxic, post-consumer recycled plastic, natch) generates kinetic electricity that’s then converted to electricity used to power two “horns”  (or are they ears?) that can be detached and used as LED flashlights or night lights.
I don’t know about you, but I would have gone bananas over something like this when I was a kid. I’m not sure if I would have fully understood the important eco-educational message of clean, renewable energy behind it, but I think I would have loved ridin’ the crud out of Rocco to make the flashlights work.
Take a look at the renderings below for a full-explanation of how Rocco works. 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Greener Gadgets '10: Rocco, The Energy Pal
One of the finalists in 2010's Greener Gadgets Design Competition is kinetic energy-generating Rocco, a traditional rocking horse gone greentech.