What if you could charge your smartphone just by wearing your favorite outfit? It seems far-fetched, but it might not be as far off as you think.
Dutch fashion designer Pauline van Dongen has created an interesting fusion of fashion, environmentalism and connectivity. Her startup, Wearable Solar, has developed a prototype for a solar powered dress that could serve as a mobile charging station for various devices.
There were a few different inspirations behind this idea. She told TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival:
“There are two main reasons for it. One of them is the fact that we highly depend on connectivity. We’re all addicted to our smartphones and we want them constantly powered, and the better our batteries get, the more we’ll use them. At the same time, working as a wearable tech designer, I know the difficulties when integrating these kind of bulky batteries that don’t allow for any comfort or wearability. So that’s why I thought, why not power your phone through your clothes? And eventually power other interactive qualities that our garments are becoming a platform for.”
Currently, the dress doesn’t look like much, as it’s just a prototype. Van Dongen is also working on other improvements like making the solar cells washable and making the electrical circuit look and feel more like natural textiles.
The design also depends on the sun or other sources of light, so overcast skies can impact how well or how quickly it works.
So while there are still some kinks to work out, Wearable Solar certainly presents an interesting idea. People are constantly becoming more and more dependent on their mobile devices. And while they make many aspects of life more convenient, the constant charging can put a strain both on people’s schedules and on the environment.
What van Dongen is doing, it seems, is trying to solve multiple problems at once. She still has some work to do before making her creation commercially available, but it could turn out to be a major innovation.