How would you like a jacket that would charge your MP3 player or PDA? Konarka and Textron think you would. The two have formed a joint development program to create prototype garments and fashion accessories with portable, wearable power-generation capabilities. The technology will utilize Konarka's light-activated Power Plastic(TM) and Textronics' electronic textile systems to provide renewable, wearable energy sources for personal electronic devices. By combining the two technologies they hope to develop garments that will overcome the shortcomings of conventional power technologies by enabling consumers to have energy generation ability with them at all times.
The resulting systems will be flexible and integrated in a way that will retain many of the qualities of conventional textiles, providing an overall consumer experience that is more like wearing a jacket or carrying a messenger bag than charging a device. Konarka's added abilities to provide colored and patterned Power Plastic technology will allow for innovative aesthetic solutions.
"This joint effort will show designer-label manufacturers how we can bring new benefits to consumers through their everyday clothing and fashion accessories, including increased levels of convenience, freedom of use and performance while minimally affecting the garment's overall weight, size or appearance," said Daniel Patrick McGahn, Konarka's executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
Konarka builds products that convert light to energy – anywhere. Konarka is the leading developer of polymer photovoltaic products that provide a source of renewable power in a variety of form factors for commercial, industrial, government and consumer applications. Konarka’s photovoltaic nanotechnology is focused on delivering lightweight, flexible, scalable and manufacturable products. Unlike other photovoltaic technologies that incorporate glass, Konarka's technology is polymer-based, making it lightweight and portable. The company's PV module technology converts both sun and indoor light into direct current (DC) electrical energy and can be incorporated into a wide range of applications for an economical, versatile power source.
Textronics is a developer and producer of electro-textiles or “e-textiles,” which are fabric systems that can conduct, warm, illuminate or sense. The company’s unique technology portfolio uses the stretch and recovery properties of elastomeric materials to interact with electronic systems. Electro-textiles are used in the apparel, automotive, industrial, home interior, healthcare, and communications business sectors to deliver enhanced safety, comfort, heath, communications, entertainment and aesthetic solutions.
See this article from Business Week for more on the subject.
"Konarka and Textronics Partner to Develop Power-Generating Wearable Electronics", Joint press release, 9/28/05
Textronics, Wilmington, Delaware
Konarka, Lowell, MA