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'Solar Shirt' Powers Your iPhone in Style, Unveiled at SXSW

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Solar has gone chic with high end fashion designer, Pauline van Dongen's Solar Shirt from her Wearable Solar collection. The shirt, which was designed in collaboration with TNO and Holst Centre, was unveiled at a SXSW Interactive. The shirt allows you to power up your portable devices using solar cells integrated into the fabric, all while looking good doing it.

The shirt allows you to power up your portable devices using solar cells integrated into the fabric all while looking good doing it. Photo credit: Pauline van Dongen

“Wearing solar cells lets us harness the sun’s potential energy and become a power source ourselves," said van Dongen in a press release. "As a designer, I’m excited by how solar cells can add to the esthetic of a garment ... We’ve taken solar fashion from the catwalk to [main] street, with an attractive yet practical garment that people could wear every day,” she says.

To charge your phone or other portable device, you need to plug your charger into a small "module" in the front of the shirt, which doubles as a pocket when you're not using it to charge a device. The shirt can charge smartphones, MP3 players, GPS systems and other USB-compatible handheld or portable devices. It contains 120 thin-film solar cells, so "in bright sunlight, it produces one watt of electricity, enough to charge a phone in a few hours," said Holst Centre's Margreet de Kok in the press release. Indoors, it generates enough power to keep a battery alive.

Many clothing designers have struggled to create wearable technology with the moving body in mind and most of the clothing is not machine washable. The Solar Shirt has all of that covered. “Our technology enables extremely thin electronics that are stretchable, flexible and washable,” de Kok said. "It can be integrated into fabrics using standard high-volume techniques that are well known in the textile industry. The maturity of the technology means textile manufactures could bring functional fabrics to market in a matter of months using existing production facilities."

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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