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Solar Bikini goes into very limited production


June 15, 2011

New York designer Andrew Schneider is currently taking very limited orders for his Solar Bikini - beachwear that can also power portable device like media players or mobile phones (Photo: Preston Noon)

New York designer Andrew Schneider is currently taking very limited orders for his Solar Bikini - beachwear that can also power portable device like media players or mobile phones (Photo: Preston Noon)

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Those lucky enough to be currently enjoying the Northern Hemisphere summer will no doubt be heading for the beach for a good bronzing as often as possible. These days, of course, the digital device is an important part of the sun worshiper's kit, and making sure they have enough battery power to go the distance can be a major concern. The Solar Bikini from New York designer Andrew Schneider is said to be capable of charging a smartphone or media player while the wearer lays back and soaks up the summer sun. Now available for custom order, each bikini sports 40 thin and flexible photovoltaic strips connected by conductive thread, which ends at a USB port.

Schneider told Gizmag that the idea for the Solar Bikini came to him while brainstorming ideas for sustainable products at the opening session of an Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. He jokingly said that he was going to make a bikini capable of chilling beer at the beach. Thinking more about the idea, he realized that with the help of modern photovoltaic technology and a Peltier junction, such a product might in fact be technically possible.

Sadly, the prototype that followed didn't produce nearly enough juice to power a cooler, but Schneider found that it did work with an iPod. After a few refinements, the Solar Bikini is now being made available for a very limited number of custom orders via Solar Coterie.

The outer surface of the bikini is covered with 1 x 4-inch (25.4 x 101.6 mm) flexible photovoltaic cells from PowerFilm Solar, which are precision hand-stitched onto the base material using conductive thread. Photon bombardment sends the electrons down to a 5V DC terminator and onward to a female USB connector for device attachment. The output is said to be comparable to a laptop's USB port, as is the time it takes to charge an MP3 player or mobile phone.

As no energy is actually stored in the bikini, the designer says that wearers can even go for a swim while sporting the high-tech bikini, although charging while going for a dip is not recommended. Once back from the water, the Solar Bikini needs to be completely dried before any device is attached, or it won't function properly.

Of course, spending a good length of time under a blazing sun is not terribly good news for the skin, and a healthy combination of effective sunscreen and common sense is advised.

The cost of each Solar Bikini will vary according to the design, but it's not going to be a cheap clean energy charging solution for your portable devices. Schneider told us that "you can expect anywhere from US$500 to US$1,500 and up."

The designer says that he hasn't given up on the idea of chilling beer using beachwear, and is currently building and testing prototypes for the iDrink - men's solar shorts with sufficient surface area to push out the energy needed to power a small drinks chiller.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

oh come on, no comments about the blonde not being able to get any sun on those cells because,,, better go ;)

Bill Bennett

I understand that this is more about the concept but for $1500 you\'d at least expect it not to look like someone took any old bathing costume and told a five year old to super-glue on some solar cells.


I imagine that it\'s not as comfortable as the girl makes it look. But the portable cooler is an awesome idea. Should make a portable cooler with solar batteries for cyclists, as our drinks get warm all to quickly on those longer rides.

Btw, the price tag sucks!

Renārs Grebežs

I guess the girls in Europe will only get half the power because of the topless beaches.


LOL How about a solar beach towel instead. Many times the area, charges even in low light, and best of all, you don\'t look stupid wearing a nerdy bikini. And the price? A fraction of course. And so many kinds of solar film is available -- even flexible kinds. BTW it doesn\'t need to be customized like the bikini. This guy is a complete nerd with no imagination or creativity. Not to mention what happens when you hit the water in this solar bikini: \" Once back from the water, the Solar Bikini needs to be completely dried before any device is attached, or it won\'t function properly \"


Actually, a USB port isn\'t the first thing that came to mind. Ralph L. Seifer, Long Beach, California.


Of all things, a bikini is not an item of clothing with a great surface area is it?


A tank top one piece bathing suit would be much better for the solar area aspect of it. The solar beach towel was also a good idea except when you are laying on it and shading the cells. Just the thing to be wearing on a deserted island and to keep your satellite phone charged. Use the solar beach towel and you could hook your sat phone up to your computer and surf the net while being in the middle of nowhere .

Jim Andrews

said,Hey don\'t stop their go into sandles or hats or maybe gloves too cuz I can see it growing into alot more then just someone taking a tan.Go with the flow and dream big bro-cheers to a better life!!!

Gagan'deep Purple

If a bikini (front only) solar charger costs $1,500...how much would a full size, one side only beach towel cost??? But the idea of a busty blonde wearing the flexible solar cells was to garner attention to a product which may well have applications outside of the personal pleasuring (I-pods, fans, etc) application. Perhaps on a GI\'s helmet or body armor to power his/her cell phone or GPS? Or on the shoulders and helmets of bicycle riders. I\'ve had an earlier model attached to my bicycle bag for over 20 years and it\'s still functioning great.


Did no one notice the circa 2005 ipod shuffle in the pictures?

Sam White

a waste of resources

Carlton Busch

Topless suits would only power an ipod nano. On the other hand, those long baggy \"shorts\" that American men wear could cool a whole case of beer.

Havelock T

Yeah, the bikini thing is stupid/dumb, but if it gets people thinking, that\'s good. I can see a tent fly & tent covered with pv cells, not to mention those \"emergency blankets\" with a gps locator as well, for hikers that get lost.


There must be a long waiting list for work as a field service technician!! :-)

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