For Challenge 10, we were inspired by the question: “Why do cell phones not charge themselves?” It seems strange or barbaric that humans have to remember to charge their phones at night. After exploring multiple methods to charge phones, we choose to combine the design principles of a portable charger with solar panel energy capabilities.

After talking to a few energy companies in the Cambridge and Boston area including Tesla and Cambridge solar we quickly discovered the limitation to solar panel phones: size and power. There are solar panels that are small enough to fit on the back of phones; however, companies only use one panel.  This does not generate enough energy for the normal amount of consumption a smartphone requires

Your cell phone uses less energy than most people seem to believe. An Iphone battery holds a charge of 5.45 watt hours and if you use this much everyday for a year this is 2000 watt hours per year. The results in using less than a dollar in electricity per year. For a comparison a laptop uses around 8 dollars per year.

A large clunky solar panel is not desirable for the user; however. So we created a two-fold design intervention that maximizes energy use and minimizes aesthetic discomfort for the user.

Our design intervention:

  1. We redesign the portable phone case to include not 1, but four solar panels on the phone. Two would unfold from the top of the case, like a book, and the other two would slide out the top and bottom.
  1. In order to get a large boost of energy throughout the day; we have also invented small stations with medium sized solar panels that one can rest their phone on.