Solar-powered bags can recharge phones

Hong Kong company Mascotte Industrial Associates is developing a line of backpacks, e-book covers, camera bags and messenger bags containing solar cells.

The idea is that they can then be tapped to recharge items like cell phones, e-readers or cameras.

The panels come from UK manufacturer G24 Innovations. The flexible dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are flexible and relatively cheap, says the company. They will harvest energy outdoors as well as in low light conditions indoors to repower a range of mobile electronic devices.

Right now, the panels can’t handle anything as big as a PC – indeed, they take several hours to charge a mobile phone. But the company hopes to further develop the technology.

“We’ve achieved this milestone through a sustained focus on transforming a highly promising technology from the lab to mass production, such that it can be applied to a variety of commercial opportunities,” said G24i’s chief executive officer, John Hartnett. “Our goal is to deliver the future of mobile energy by personalizing solar power.”

The first commercial designs are expected by December.