Solaris: A unisex solar-powered jacket for the day hiker
The power source of portable consumer electronics are typically designed with a limited life-span; however, integration of flexible solar cells into apparel can provide off-grid renewable power for such devices. Solar-powered garments are potentially useful to a range of individuals from the recreational outdoor market to those in the safety industry. Flexible solar panels have been successfully integrated into fashion accessories such as backpacks and hats. However, only a few solar-powered apparel products exist in the marketplace today, due to challenges of apparel manufacturing and sizing (Roston & Bhasin, 2016). Design research is needed not only for the functional integration of flexible solar cells in a garment, but also on how to integrate them into apparel in a manner consistent with consumerâ€™s expressive and aesthetic needs (Hwang, Chung, & Sanders, 2016; Sanders et al. 2012). The purpose of this project was to design a mass-producible solar-powered garment that would meet consumersâ€™ functional, aesthetic and expressive needs. The FEA framework (Lamb & Kallal) was useful in guiding design processes, techniques, and execution to form a cohesive final product integrating the functional electrical component requirements of solar-energy harvesting along with consumersâ€™ functional, expressive, and aesthetic needs. In the consumer market, smart apparel must remain visually attractive and enhance the wearerâ€™s appearance; to be commercially successful. We successfully integrated flexible solar cells into an aesthetically-pleasing and functional jacket, and generated energy to power electronic devices.