Solar Wearables

by Brooke Nally, sustainable energy specialist with


Today, a lot of excitement surrounds wearable tech, Internet-connected fashion accessories and clothing that represent the ultimate in mobile technology. Did you know that soon solar power will also become a buzz word among many trendy fashion designers? Innovative dress designers such as the Netherland’s Pauline Van Dongen have recently begun incorporating miniaturized solar power panels into some wearable items, enabling customers to use their attire to re-charge their cell phones. This trend promises to transform the fashion world within this decade.


Last January, Aaron Tilley presented a technology article on the Forbes website welcoming the arrival of Swarovski Shine, the first fashion line of jewelry dedicated to generating solar power to recharge wearable tech. The product of a venture undertaken by the eminent Swarovski jewelry design house and a startup company, Misfit Wearables, this new product does not even require extensive exposure to sunlight to begin generating small amounts of power. A mere ten to 15 minutes of outdoor activity can supply an associated fitness and sleep tracking device with sufficient energy to function for several days, a significant energy savings for consumers.

What benefits will users of the system derive? The solar tech jewelry reportedly retails for a price between $170 and $250. This system works with the approximately $80 Shine computer-connected fitness tracker to generate real time information. People maintaining exercise programs and diet regimens can use the innovative wearable tech to:

• Keep a running tally of daily calories utilized;

• Monitor the number of foot steps undertaken each day;

• Assess the quality of sleep at night, and more.

Soon, instead of a daily test of meal time and workout willpower and motivation, weight control will become more a matter of plugging into effective emerging technologies, such as Shine, and monitoring one’s fitness readings at regular intervals.

Devising Energy-Efficient Wearables

Experts point to two essential challenges still facing companies as they enter the haute couture realm of stylish sunshine-empowered clothing and accessories. Harvesting energy and storing it both remain important research issues. Several options exist for implementing the former process; design innovators have begun exploring everything from wearable solar cells, like ones used by Pauline Van Dongen, to imaginative thermoelectric and piezoelectric systems. As this decade progresses, the public will probably see some very creative new solar fashion items reach the market.

Wearable Power

Now consumers and high-tech fashion houses seem poised to reap some of the rewards of all this intense scientific inquiry. Innovators such as Pauline Van Dongen have already started searching for ways to incorporate sunshine power into daily wear. Expect some stunning new products to catch your eye in the near future!

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