If you're on the go a lot away from a power outlet and have gadgets that you need to keep charged an external battery will help you keep going. The problem with normal external batteries is that they have to be plugged into an outlet typically to charge themselves. A new solar charger has surfaced called the Switch 8.
E-Ink's power-sipping frugality makes it an ideal partner to solar panels, and so it's hard to believe SolarFocus' SolarKindle idea hasn't been offered before. A combination case, recharging system and LED light for the Kindle ereader, the new accessory is fronted by a bank of solar cells that recharge an integrated 1,500 mAh battery pack. That battery can be used to top up your Kindle's power, turn on the flip-out LED lamp, or both.
Nokia has finished a research project that's been testing the feasibility of harvesting solar energy to power a mobile phone. The test involved five prototype feature phones equipped with built-in solar chargers that were distributed to various regions around the world to test under different climate conditions. Overall, Nokia finds that solar-powered phones are possible but very challenging and, at its current state, impractical.
Google has announced that it has made a new $94 million investment in clean solar energy. The investment will go into four different solar projects that Google is having built by Recurrent Energy near Sacramento, California. With the new investment, the total that Google has spent on clean energy so far is $915 million.
I like most of the crowd sourced gear that quirky builds. The company operates on an interesting model where they take a person's idea and then build the product based on input from the users of the site. The latest product from Quirky is the Ray and it's very interesting for those that are on the go a lot. The Ray is a little suction cup solar charger with a USB port that uses the cables that come with your gear.
If you travel a lot with your iPad, you probably have a bag to carry the thing in so that you can keep it safe and secure while you move about. No one wants to crush or scratch their expensive tablet up if that can be avoided. A company called Element 5 has an interesting new bag for your iPad that not only has style and will keep your device safe; it also has a solar panel built-in to allow you to keep your iPad running longer as well.
If you are going to be outside where there is no outlet for a long time and you are talking a bunch of gadgets with you, you will need a bunch of batteries or a solar charger of some sort. Voltaic has a new and cool solar charger that is made to protect and charge your iPad or similar tablet and a bunch of other devices. The case is called the Spark Tablet Case and it sells for a cool $299.
A Japanese company has developed a highly portable backup generator which uses a flexible solar panel to fit 40W of power into a 3kg package. The OS GSR-110B combines a 24W internal rechargeable battery with a 16W solar panel that pulls 1.2m from the side of the unit.
While other car manufacturers out there find ways to make electric cars lighter, along with new ways to implement the battery within them, there's still the issue of keeping them charged now. For Bike Arc, which has made a name for itself by making new ways to stay eco-friendly, keeping your electric car charged is an easy thing to do thanks to their brand new Car Arc solar powered car port.
As concepts go, here's one we wouldn't be surprised to see sprout into a commercial release in the very near future. Weng Jie's solar camera strap is designed to not only let photographers eke out a few more shots, but to do so making use of the sun's energy rather than bulky external power packs.
Rather sensibly, the strap basically replaces the neck cord most DSLR users wear to keep their cameras readily to hand with a solar-cell encrusted version. Clipping on to the camera's mounting points as normal, it would also have a DC plug to gradually top-up the DSLR's battery during use. Of course you'd need sufficient sun to make it worthwhile, so indoor photographers probably shouldn't bother, but anyone out and about should be able to hammer through a few more frames at least.