We think the piezoelectric backpack is a pretty cool concept for generating your own electricity just by walking around, not to mention various other solar bags, but a new development stands to revolutionize the way that we interact with solar power in our everyday lives: solar textiles. We've seen solar integrated into clothing before, like with this jean jacket, but that was a group of photovoltaic cells surrounded by denim; the difference with this new textile (the "Power Textile," according to the image above) is that the whole fabric sucks up the sun's rays and converts it to energy.
Though real-world usage is probably two years away, the development represents a pretty significant step forward; pretty soon, there really won't be anything that can't be covered in solar fabric to help harvest energy. While panels won't be going out of style anytime soon for residential and larger arrays, the flexibility of the textile allows for a huge variety of applications beyond just solar bikinis. They've even gotten the capacitors small enough to work with the textile, allowing the energy to be stored if you don't have anything that needs power while the sun shines on you.As with other small-scale solar projects, the textile would have the capacity to charge personal electronics like iPods, PDAs and cell phones; the development of the foldable capacitor itself stands to have a big-time impact on the burgeoning "wearable solar" industry.
As with all of these conceptual ideas, we have to play the waiting game, meaning there's a chance that we won't be wearing solar jeans in 2010; we'll cross our fingers and hope it's not a (solar) pipe dream. ::China Post via ::Ecofriend