The Bulletin

Solar outlet gives power from your windows

Posting in Design

Could future power be more personal and off the grid?

Your window might be an unlikely place to plug-in your smartphone, but a team of designers has made that possible with a novel take on the portable electronics charger.

Industrial designers Kyuho Song & Boa Oh created a solar charger called the Window Socket that suctions onto glass and converts solar energy to function like an electrical socket. The units also contain a 1,000mAh battery, which is equivalent to a smartphone's lithium-ion. The battery takes 5-8 hours to get a fully charged.

"This product is intended to enabled you to use electricity freely and conveniently in a space restricted in the use of electricity, such as in a plane, a car, and outdoors," the inventors wrote in a design brief. "Thus, this product was meant to draw out a socket used indoors outward. We tried to design a portable socket, so that users can use it intuitively without special training."

News about the invention was published in Yanko Design on Friday. The Window Socket appears to use the Korean specification for wall outlets, but could become more widely available in the future, the environmental news Web site Grist speculates. Note that there's one downside: the charge only lasts for 10 hours. The designers do not appear to have created a product Web site with any further information.

An immediately available product is the "OffGrid" solar backpack by New York startup Voltaic Systems. They are available in a variety of styles, with either built-in or detachable solar cells. The solar charger powers an internal battery that connects to devices via an integrated USB port for an output of up to 4 Watts.

A less conventional alternative comes from another New York startup, SiGNa Chemistry, a maker of miniaturized fuel cells. All that's required to power your smartphone is a tiny chemical hydrogen cartridge and some water, or even urine. The liquid initiates a chemical reaction that generates power instantly.

(image credits: Yank Design)

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— By on April 29, 2013, 12:31 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure