Continuing a recent trend of creating technological innovations to charge a smartphone around the yearly summer ‘festival season’, mobile service providers Vodafone yesterday released their newest unique products, in two separate forms of ‘wearable technology’ that are each able to power a mobile device through body warmth.
Designed in conjunction with the University of Southampton (England) primarily with music festival audiences in mind, the two products released in time for the Isle of Wight Festival this week were the ‘Power Shorts’ and ‘Recharge Sleeping Bag’, both of which utilise smart fabrics that can draw kinetic and thermal energy and direct it into a ‘Power Pocket’ that charges up a connected device.
It is noted that on the statistical side of the products, the sleeping bag (pictured) will be able to generate enough energy for 11 hours of phone battery charge on a single night’s sleep, while a day’s worth of walking whilst wearing the Power Shorts give off enough energy to convert into four extra hours of phone power.
Vodafone described the ‘ferroelectret materials’ in the shorts as creating energy each time it is deformed (i.e. by the movements of walking), while the thermal energy comes through the ‘Seebeck effect’, generating volts through the ‘temperature differences’ on the material in question. They said of the technology behind the chargers: “…these foam-like materials contain voids – the surfaces of which are permanently charged. As the size and shape of the voids changes, a net charge is produced at the surface of the material.”
The University of Southampton’s Professor Stephen Beeb added of the development in technology that he was able to work with: “We are exploring two specific technologies to charge the Power Pocket: thermoelectrics and kinetic energy harvesting. Both represent cutting-edge research around smart fabrics and we are looking to integrate these into consumer products, in this case, a sleeping bag and a pair of denim shorts.”
Christian Cull, the ‘director of communications’ at Vodafone UK, summarised: “Our ambition was to create a practical but exciting solution to the charging-related issues experienced by many at outdoor events. We hope that people harness the power in their pocket to keep them chatting, texting, browsing and photographing throughout their entire festival season!”
While it can be almost guaranteed that there will be people who somehow manage to not use the products correctly, will those that do be rewarded with an innovative boost to their battery when they need it most?