Can you imagine never having to recharge your cellphone again? That's the promise of this solar-fabric concept from Konarka, a U.S. solar tech company. Instead of plugging your phone into an outlet, you'd stick it in the pocket of a special jacket woven with fibers that are ultra-thin photovoltaic cells.
Each thread contains a stainless-steel wire the thickness of a human hair, covered with several layers of organic photovoltaic material. The wire is paired with another, thinner one that functions as a secondary electrode. Once the wires are coated with a protective, transparent polymer, they're ready to be woven into wearable solar clothing — shirts, hoodies, full-body Game Boy costumes — whatever you like.
One downside is the woeful efficiency — just 3% — but when you consider the entire surface area of your clothing becomes a solar collector, it would probably still soak up enough rays to keep that iPhone in your pocket juiced. While it's years away from becoming a real product, we'd much rather hang a jacket made of solar fabric in our closet than that silly solar vest from last week.