TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Appliances tips

Sep 06 2011

Solar Bikini? Oh yeah!

New York designer Andrew Schneider is currently taking very limited orders for his Solar Bikini – beachwear that can also power portable device like media players or mobile phones.

Click here to see pictures of the Solar Bikini

Those lucky enough to be currently enjoying the Northern Hemisphere summer will no doubt be heading for the beach for a good bronzing as often as possible. These days, of course, the digital device is an important part of the sun worshiper’s kit, and making sure they have enough battery power to go the distance can be a major concern. The Solar Bikini from New York designer Andrew Schneider is said to be capable of charging a smartphone or media player while the wearer lays back and soaks up the summer sun. Now available for custom order, each bikini sports 40 thin and flexible photovoltaic strips connected by conductive thread, which ends at a USB port.

Schneider told Gizmag that the idea for the Solar Bikini came to him while brainstorming ideas for sustainable products at the opening session of an Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. He jokingly said that he was going to make a bikini capable of chilling beer at the beach. Thinking more about the idea, he realized that with the help of modern photovoltaic technology and a Peltier junction, such a product might in fact be technically possible.

Sadly, the prototype that followed didn’t produce nearly enough juice to power a cooler, but Schneider found that it did work with an iPod. After a few refinements, the Solar Bikini is now being made available for a very limited number of custom orders via Solar Coterie.

The outer surface of the bikini is covered with 1 x 4-inch (25.4 x 101.6 mm) flexible photovoltaic cells from PowerFilm Solar, which are precision hand-stitched onto the base material using conductive thread. Photon bombardment sends the electrons down to a 5V DC terminator and onward to a female USB connector for device attachment. The output is said to be comparable to a laptop’s USB port, as is the time it takes to charge an MP3 player or mobile phone.

Click here to see pictures of the Solar Bikini

As no energy is actually stored in the bikini, the designer says that wearers can even go for a swim while sporting the high-tech bikini, although charging while going for a dip is not recommended. Once back from the water, the Solar Bikini needs to be completely dried before any device is attached, or it won’t function properly.

Of course, spending a good length of time under a blazing sun is not terribly good news for the skin, and a healthy combination of effective sunscreen and common sense is advised.

The cost of each Solar Bikini will vary according to the design, but it’s not going to be a cheap clean energy charging solution for your portable devices. Schneider told us that “you can expect anywhere from US$500 to US$1,500 and up.”

The designer says that he hasn’t given up on the idea of chilling beer using beachwear, and is currently building and testing prototypes for the iDrink – men’s solar shorts with sufficient surface area to push out the energy needed to power a small drinks chiller.

See Pictures and Read More From Paul Ridden At GizMag

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  • "“As the Texas population continues to grow, so will our energy consumption needs. We must have tools that empower the consumer to choose their products and monitor their usage wisely. TexasIsHot.org is a great resource, which is exactly what Texans need in today’s deregulated market.”" - State Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton), Chairman of House State Affairs Committee
  • "In order to meet our goals, we need programs like the TexasIsHot campaign to help change the way people think about energy." - State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), Chairman of Senate Natural Resources Committee
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  • "If every Texas household adopted just a few of the dozens of energy efficiency strategies referenced on TexasIsHot.org, our air would be cleaner, our limited supply of natural resources would be better protected, and our wallets would be heavier..." Kip Averitt (R-Waco), Former State Senator and Chairman of Senate Committee on Natural Resources
  • ”The TexasIsHot campaign targets an important piece of the clean energy effort -- educating Texans on the way we use electricity and quantifying the financial and environmental costs associated with our use. By just reducing the amount of electricity we use and waste, TexasIsHot.org can show people how to save money..." State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
  • "Fluctuating energy costs are really hurting Texas families and businesses, but by just making a few easy changes, Texans can cut down on energy waste. TexasIsHot.org is a tremendous resource which arms consumers with the information they need to save themselves money by becoming more energy efficient, and help our environment." State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
  • "Texas is the third fastest growing state in the nation with a net growth of 1,000 people each and every day. This brings many challenges including providing clean and affordable electricity. That is why I'm excited about TexasIsHot.org. This website is an instructional resource that will help Texans save on their energy bills at home and in the workplace..." State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
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  • "By partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition we can extend our effort’s reach, leverage our resources, and ensure that Austin’s energy grid continues to be a test-bed for technologies, products, and services that will transform our state’s energy system." Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
  • "The City of Houston is working harder than ever to make Houston green and energy efficient, but we need the help of every citizen. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to explore the TexasIsHot website to learn what we can all do to make Houston, and the rest of Texas, the green and energy efficient example for the rest of the nation." Mayor Annise Parker, Houston
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  • "We are excited about the new partnership that the City of Corpus Christi has entered into with the TexasIsHot Coalition. TexasIsHot.org provides a platform to educate policy makers, city employees and citizens on how to save money and help the environment by conserving energy..." Mayor Joe Adame, Corpus Christi
  • "I am excited that the City of Corpus Christi has joined the TexasIsHot Coalition and look forward to working with them to help Texans become smarter energy users. Energy efficiency is by far the best way for people to reduce their bills and help the environment, but we need education and outreach to make this happen." State Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr (D-Corpus Christi)
  • "Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation. I applaud the efforts of Corpus Christi and TexasIsHot to help businesses and residents reap the benefits of increased efficiency." Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • "Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use, saving both money and the environment. I applaud the TexasIsHot Coalition in their effort to educate Texans about the benefits of energy efficiency..." Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas
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