Wearable Solar Technology: The Sun At and On Your Back

 The idea of wearing solar panels may require a bit more imagination and thinking outside that proverbial box than most of us, green or otheriwse, can muster. They may look really cool on rooftops, but on one's back is a horse of another color. Although wearble tech has made great strides towards creating comfortable fashion wear of all types, up until now, solar technology has simply not been wearable despite whatever alternate aesthetic and/or gadget-charging potential it may have.

Dutch designer, Pauline van Dongen


Weatable Solar Shift Dress: Source: Wired.comWeatable Solar Shift Dress: Source: Wired.com


Fascinated with solar power, Pauline van Dongen  recently released an innovative, experimental clothing line that harnesses the power of the sun to charge small gadgets. Being constantly connected to your phone via your clothes is quite amazing, but for those garments to be fashionable and for women to want to wear them is another matter entirely.

Influenced by science and especially by the perception of space and its interaction with the body,  van Dongen is currently working on her PHD at TU/Eindhoven and is involved in collaborative research with such formidable colleagues as Freedom of Creation, Xsens and the Textile Museum.


Oloid Collection: Source: Wired.comOloid Collection: Source: Wired.com


Her previous clothing line, Oloid, was inspired by geometry and focuses on fluid lines and solid volumes. Various aspects include shape, size, proportions and the relative position of objects. This year her latest project is the Wearable Solar Clothing Line. In her own words: "By combining new technologies with traditional techniques I aim to constantly renovate craftsmanship."

The Wearable Solar LIne


Wearable Solar Line Coat: Source: News.Discovery.comWearable Solar Line Coat: Source: News.Discovery.com


The future of solar energy and fashion

The two pieces mentioned above are still protoypes but van Dongen and her team are determined to make them marketable. Solar technology as high tech ornamentation is saleable, however, fashion demands a constant balancing act  between function and wearability. Small-domed solar cells that capture energy more efficiently are making it possible to create marketable apparel, but these garments are still in an experimental stage.

Closing thoughts on solar power:

The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun. ~ Ralph Nader

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