March 18, 2015 AT 5:00 am

Pauline Van Dongen’s Solar Shirt #WearableWednesday


Pauline Van Dongen is the enchantress when it comes to mixing solar power with fashion. We’ve previously blogged about her Wearable Solar collection featuring dresses with large swatches of solar cells. Recently she launched a new Wearable Solar Shirt, and you probably don’t realize how this is a big deal until you look closely at the design. These are small solar cells which appear to be flexible, with a ric-rac appearance, allowing for interesting patterns.

Printed Electronics World offers more details on the shirt, which has been designed to be mass produced.

The solar cells are combined into standardized functional modules using Holst Centre’s vast solar cell know-how developed within the Solliance alliance and its stretchable electronics technology for integrating electronics into fabrics. This technology is part of a research program on wearable applications that integrates functionalities ranging from lighting (LED/OLED), energy harvesting (PV), sensors and displays, in textile or other flexible materials.

Apparently the shirts can be made roll-to-roll style allowing the solar cells to be fused onto the fabric before the shirts are even stitched. The process seems to be cost effective, which means this may be one wearable tech product that will be affordable. The energy harvesting isn’t bad, either.

The Solar Shirt generates power from 120 thin-film solar cells integrated into the fabric itself. In bright sunlight, it produces around 1 W of electricity – enough to charge a typical phone in a few hours. Indoors, the shirt generates enough power to keep a battery charged – so your phone or other device is always ready when you need it.

It’s refreshing to hear about the manufacturing side of the equation with this project, and it shows Pauline’s commitment to not only explore the future of technology, but to also keep it close at hand with the consumer that needs it. I know I’ve been one of those consumers that is often stuck in an unfamiliar city on a cold day with a dead cell phone, so I’ve been gathering parts to make a solar purse to solve the issue. You can make one, too, with our Solar Boost Bag learning guide. Pick out a purse or bag that you want to hack and get soldering. This is a great project for a sunny day, and you can take just the battery pack and stash it in your purse sans solar cell. Don’t leave home without it.

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