From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Researcher Developing Wearable Solar Charger for Handheld Electronics

An Iowa State University (ISU) researcher wears one of the cell phone chargers he has invented on his head and hand-carries another. They recharge MP3 players too. The Sun powers these inventions, so future versions for the market can count on points from environmentalists. And these chargers have the potential to increase the utility of handheld electronics. If the future versions are as usable as they are useful, they could also win points for ergonomics.

Joe Hynek, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering at ISU, is working to make solar cell technology wearable and able to keep a cell phone or handheld computer charged and ready.

"My goal is to use solar cells in a way that’s unobtrusive to fashion while making something that’s useful," he said in a recent ISU news release.

He’s concentrating on purses, hats, jackets and other accessories for now. That technology is a little easier because it doesn’t have to stand up to regular trips through the laundry. But he’s also working on technology that will stand up to washing machines.

Hynek’s award-winning "Power Purse" is covered with solar cells that recharge batteries. It was this project that started him thinking about wearable solar technology.

His work has won a grant to develop the technology and intellectual property for a new company that will occupy a niche between engineering and textiles. Hyneck and his grant collaborators predict significant interest from clothing designers and manufacturers after the technological issues have been resolved.

The goal is to come up with some patents. And it’s to make life a little easier for people who can’t leave home without their electronics. "My major goal is to give convenience to people," Hynek said, "so they’re always charged and always on the go."

Source: Iowa State University