9 Unconventional Ways to Harness Solar Energy

solar powered swimsuit

Solar power is certainly increasing in popularity, as studies show that the global PV (photovoltaic cell) market might have exceeded 16 GW in 2010. In comparison to wind power (which had a capacity of 175 GW in 2010) it is really meager, and in 2008 solar power actually supplied less than 0.02 percent of the world’s total energy supply. The reason might be the very high installation cost of solar plants.

Some developing countries in particular may not have the funds to build solar power plants. But in another favorable trend, we are continuing to see that small solar applications are now replacing other sources.  Here are 9 unconventional solar applications:

1. Solar Cap:

solar cap

Basically it is a $50 cap with a solar panel integrated into its brim, and a pair of solar-charged LEDs on the underside. This petite panel will take around 3 days of charging for full capacity illumination for 5 hours. The lights can also shine up to 30 ft.

2. Solar Powered Bikini:

solar bikini

Yes, you read that right, and before you are lost in some pleasant reverie, let me tell you that this concept at least does have some sense of practicality. Part of the “iDrink Project” by designer Andrew Schneider, the basic function of this ‘contraption’ is to chill soft drinks by using an USB. But the bikini part does come with integrated solar panels for powering up small devices such as your mobile phone and iPod.

3. Solar swimsuit:

solar swimsuit

Oh man, things are really getting hot here in EcoFriend! This time German lingerie manufacturer Triumph International has come with a gorgeous and unique solar powered swimsuit. Debuting at the “Triumph Fashion Cup” in Valencia, Spain; the visible jack around the pelvic region (if you look closely in the photo) can power up your small electronic devices.

4. Solar Panel Bra:

solar bra

Okay, so we have something for the ladies too. It is the ‘greenly’ functional solar bra (or brassiere for the snobs and the French), which actually looks more like a plastic corset. Designed by the Japanese (who else?!), one can use the clean power to display messages on an electronic board. And if that was not enough in the name of our sacred sustainability, the bra material is actually composed from organic cotton cloth, which is made completely without the use of pesticides.

5. Solar-powered sunglasses:

solar powered sunglasses

Ingeniously designed by Hyun-Joong Kim and Kwang-Seok Jeong, this classy piece of technology comes with dollops of practicality. Dubbed the Self-Energy Generating Glasses, or simply SIG glasses, this contraption not only protects your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun, but actually converts them to clean electricity by integrated dye sensitized solar cells. The stored energy in turn can be used to juice up your gadgets by connecting them to the jack on the glass frame. Stylish and sustainable, now this is our kind of accessory.

6. Solar necklace:

solar necklace

Looking like a set of miniature solar panels (which they are), now it’s up to you to find them uniquely trendy or out-right quirky. This ‘necklace‘ is designed by Mae Yokoyama and named as the Lux, alluding to the SI photometric unit of illuminance. The necklace stores daytime energy in a built-in battery pack and uses that energy to power an array of LED lights embedded within the necklace. That literally offers you a special kind of radiance during the night time.

7. Q-Sound – Solar power for musical outburst:

q sound

Romanian based designer Shepeleff Stephen has adroitly come up with a fascinating piece of technology in the form of Q-SOUND (Quantum Sound), which is basically a totally solar powered system of Bluetooth stereo headphones. The outer side of the headband is composed of hexagonal, flexible amorphous silicon solar cells with a silvery finish, while the inner side is made up of rubber-based material for maximum user comfort. Coming with two removable rechargeable NiMH batteries with an electric capacity of 800mAh and operating voltage of 1.2V, this fully charged headset will be able to run for up to 40 hours. While the set can play any type of Bluetooth-enabled device such as digital audio player/MP3 player, it is also connectible to devices utilizing a 3.5mm stereophonic jack plug.

8. Day for night solar power dress:

day for night solar dress

Designed by Despina Papadopoulos at Studio 5050, this ‘day for night’ dress can absorb the sun’s rays during the daytime so that you can be glitteringly gorgeous during the night, as this beautiful little number literally emanates all the stored up energy. Consisting of 448 white circuit board tiles, according to the designer, they ‘accommodate solar cells, RGB LEDs, or photocells and jumper connections’.

9. Solar football:

solar football

Solar power is making its way into every facet of our life. Taiwan based company GreenDix has come up with the world’s first solar football. Incorporated on the conventional pentagonal black patches, they can power built-in motion sensors and audio devices. So once this contraption is kicked, the ball could emit a tracking sound (but we are not too sure about its functionality!).

Source: (edited) Solar Feeds (via Ecofriend)

Using solar power instead of mains electricity is not only good for the environment, it can be very convenient too.  Some of the above solar applications are somewhat outlandish but the creative designs are sure to inspire other more practical applications.

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