Solar panel dress can charge your smartphone

solar dress
© Wearable Solar

Dutch fashion designer Pauline van Dongen has come up with a way to keep our gadgets charged with clean solar energy without having to wear solar backpacks or strap solar panels to our bodies while out in the sun -- hide the solar panels in flaps in our clothing. Solar clothing and textiles is not a new topic, but the approach that Dongen has come up is interesting to say the least.

Dongen partnered with Christiaan Holland from the HAN University of Applied Sciences and solar energy expert Gert Jan Jongerden of the Wearable Solar project, whose aim is to integrate solar technology into comfortable and fashionable clothing. The two designs -- a dress and a coat -- were presented at the Wearable Futures conference in London last week.

The dress features 72 flexible cells attached to panels on the front of the garment that can be folded outwards to capture sunlight, while the coat features 48 rigid crystal solar panels that are integrated into leather flaps on the jacket's shoulders and waist. Like with the dress, the panels can be hidden when not in use.

"We're not very far away from people actually wearing these garments that I design," said Van Dongen, adding that the project team are also currently seeking investment to translate it into a commercially viable enterprise.

With one hour's exposure to direct sunlight, both of the clothing items could store enough energy to charge a smartphone to 50 percent capacity, which is better than many solar chargers we've covered before.

While the designs are a little futuristic-looking, the garments are both wearable and have great performance and the aspect of folding away the panels when not in use is clever. If these designs are a jumping off point for everyday solar clothing, we look forward to seeing what's next.

You can watch a video about the solar garments below.

Solar panel dress can charge your smartphone
The design may be a little on the "futuristic" side, but the function seems to be right on.

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