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

Business

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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