Freeplay, the company that originally bought the patent for the clockwork radio, is to launch a hand-driven charger for mobile phones.

The company hasn't yet finished tying up loose ends with handset and mobile phone peripheral companies to supply the chargers, but it's likely the product will be on shelves come Christmas.

PC Advisor was unable to get a glimpse of a prototype of the device, which the company had slated to demonsrate at this year's Electrical Retailers' Show in Birmingham, because Freeplay pulled its appearance at the last minute.

But a Freeplay executive admitted the company was almost finished with the deal. Instead of employing the clockwork system used to great effect on radios and torches so far, the phone charger will works via a more common system of crank and dynamo, with a battery to store electricity - much like the system used in cars.

The clockwork method has proved its worth, said the Freeplay executive, but is just to heavy and cumbersome for use with small devices. Freeplay is also developing ways to charge small computers, such as Palm or Pocket PC devices.