05 Jan 2007
At last, an end to the twin miseries of flat iPod battery and warm beer at the beach: a swimsuit that converts sunshine into electricity.
A bikini stitched from solar panels generates enough electricity to charge an MP3 player, allowing the wearer to multi-task leisure activities while reclining on the beach. The photovoltaic panels stitched directly on the bikini put out 6.5 V.
The multi-function swimwear made its catwalk debut at the end of 2006 at the Interactive Telecommunications Program students' final show at the Tisch School of the Arts, a part of New York University.
"The suit is a standard medium-sized bikini swimsuit retrofitted with 1x4 inch photovoltaic film strips sewn together in series with conductive thread," developer Andrew Schneider told optics.org. "The cells terminate in a female USB connection and a 5 V voltage regulator to optimise the output."
"There is no way I couldn't do this project," he said. "Once I realized it could be done, it had to be done. I also wanted the opportunity to work with renewable and solar energy in a fun, kitsch and yet consumer-oriented way."
"I decided to go with a female suit because of the sleeker form. The demographic I can foresee actually becoming interested in the solar bikini would be those people who enjoy mobile culture, hanging out, music, and kitsch - a demographic not unlike that to which the Apple Corp. seems to preach."
Men who are interested in adapting their swimwear into a mini-power station will not be left out. The male version of the Solar Bikini is coming soon and will be called the iDrink. With a greater surface area (!) it is expected to deliver a higher output voltage. This additional juice will be sufficient to power a 1.5 A peltier junction to cool a can of beer (or soda) in a custom coozy. "That's what I call double cool," Schneider added.
"The iDrink solar swimwear line will be perfect for those who want to go the beach, listen to music, and enjoy a cold beverage, but who don't want to get wet! You've got tunes, you've got beer, you've got sun, and you've got each other in swimwear. The rest is up to you."
Whether the multi-tasking beach babes and bums will actually be able to swim in the new costumes without receiving a shock in a sensitive area was not revealed. But optics.org guesses they'll probably be too busy dancing, drinking or charging up their toothbrushes to take a dip.