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Solar-powered headphones

Have sun, will listen

It’s a constant struggle with electric gadgets and wireless products that many of them are hungry for charge, such is their energy-intensive needs. At a time when energy and our use of it has never been under so much scrutiny, it’s right that governments and companies look at how they can harness natural resources to provide power. 

There have been many forays into incorporating solar charging into the process of use or applications. Japan’s Enecoat Technologies is a startup that has been attempting to incorporate thin solar cells into windows to generate electricity, and it’s only recently that a team of Nottingham University students took on the challenge to build solar-powered a car in Austraila, and succeeded. It’s also not uncommon to see solar-powered mobile phone chargers decorating picnic blankets, beach towels and the decks of superyachts, while that happiest of yellow planets is throwing out lots of light and heat to cheer up our lives. While not as performance enhacing as their mains-powered equivalents, they’re still handy when your juice gets low.

Step forward then Swedish company Urbanista and well-known German sportswear firm Adidas, which collaborated to build solar panels into their headbands. It was a partnership enabled by Exeger, another Swedish company which created Powerfoyle – a 1.3mm patented solar cell material thin enough to transform any kind of light into usable energy. The company was inspired by the way plants transform light energy into into chemical energy during photosynthesis. 

While not as efficient as standard silicon-based solar power cells, the headphones’ innovative technology makes sure you have a nonstop audio experience, with just 20 minutes of exposure to European sunlight providing one hour’s worth of sweet sound experiences. And, if you’re unlucky to be stuck on a dark, broken down train in the middle of a tunnel, there’s still a power pack to provide 80 hours of playback.

Such technology has yet to filter through to mobile phones, precisely because many of us keep them in pockets and bags, out of sight and daylight, but there have been advancements in wearable charging technology, and threading this into clothes. For now though, pick up a pair of these headphones, and head out into the sunshine, knowing that your aural pleasure is unlikely to be interrupted any time soon.