John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This "Wearable Solar" clothing allegedly can restore half of a phone's power when worn in bright sunlight.
They may be riddled with clunky panels and weirdly aggressive shoulder guards, but these high-tech togs will keep a phone juiced up way past the time it normally loses a charge. That is assuming it's sunny outside – if the cloud cover is thick, then you're just looking like Batman for no good reason.
The "Wearable Solar" coat shown below is one of two photovoltaic-loaded civvies (the other's a sleeveless dress) developed by Dutch innovation-funding firm Gelderland Valoriseert and Pauline van Dongen, whose neo-clothing line also includes 3-D printed shoes and vestments that look like erosion. The jet-black accoutrements are equipped with panels and sleeves sheltering up to 48 removable solar cells; when worn out in bright daylight, the makers of "Wearable Solar" claim, the items can restore up to half of a phone's battery life in one hour.
Turning humans into their snazzy, walking energy generators was initially an idea aimed at attendees of large music festivals, who rely on phones to locate roaming friends and tucked-away stages. But van Dongen thinks that solar-powered raiments could find a wider audience in the future, telling the Dutch site Design.nl (head there for good photos of the clothes):
I am convinced that this could lead to a product that can be marketed on a big scale, largely because of the growing role played by connectivity in our current society and because of the enormous potential that solar energy has to offer. It is the biggest source of energy on earth and it’s important that people realize its value....
I think that science, biology and for instance nano technology will have a huge impact on future developments within fashion.
Aside from power cells, these renewable-energy body shells are fabricated from a pleasing and hard-to-rip mixture of wool and leather. There's no word on how hot it might get inside them, but if it's too sweaty the solution shouldn't be hard to find – just stick in some ventilation fans that run off the solar panels.
Here's the designer and associates explaining a bit more about how the clothes work. They're now working on pushing out versions for the commercial market:
(H/t to Mocoloco)