Please Stop Designing Ugly Solar Clothing
Image via Chinavision
Ok. Let's get down to a problem issue in green tech: Designing and manufacturing ugly junk that no one will buy, unless as a novelty and then never use. And what's worse, is making it seem like it'll even function. Say for instance this highly unattractive and downright lame solar vest. With this particular vest, we see quite a few problems. First, it says "SOLAR VEST" on the back. WTF?
Next, they rate the four solar cells at 6W, and yet claim that you can charge your laptop with it. That's just untrue. You might be able to get enough juice to power on your laptop, check your email and get half way through a reply message before you're going to need another power source. We've seen which solar chargers would work for a laptop, and they're a whole lot more hefty than this thing.
Designs like this are of the same vein as putting solar cells on the device itself - the cells are on an item that won't be sitting out in the sun, period. No honest to goodness geek is going to leave their solar cell-toting cell phone out in the sun for an hour or more just to get 5 minutes of talk time. Similarly, no geek who might wear this is going to be seen sitting in the sun for the hours it'll take to charge their small handhelds. There's a reason geeks are known to have pastey skin and it's because they don't walk around for hours in the sun. They might, however, devise a complicated pulley system that will haul this thing out their window into the sunlight, and back in when it finishes charging their gear.
And back to the lies - the site's FAQ actually says this'll draw in chicks "like moths to a light bulb." Really?? Let's take another look...
Yeah, not likely.
Bemoaning the lameness of this vest in particular brings us to the bigger problem of green tech design, and design in general. People design ugly crap with "green" as an angle, and waste the earth's resources manufacturing it. The fact is items like these are not going to get a lot of market attention, and they shouldn't.
So a call out to designers who work on ideas that utilize materials that shouldn't be wasted, such as those going into electronics: For goodness' sake, Design Stuff Better! Spend a little time making it elegant, cool, interesting...anything other than downright ugly and ridiculous. And when you do put it out there, don't lie about its capabilities!
Ugly designs that make it to market are a terrible waste of materials, and we can no longer afford to use up resources on awful junk that'll be in a landfill in 6 months. It's just not an option anymore.