There is a brand new concept in the latest styles of swimsuits this season: the solar bikini. Also referred to as the 'iKini', this hand-made swimsuit, created by Brooklyn based designer and innovator Andrew Schneider, has the ability to charge an iPod and camera whilst laying in the sun.
The iKini consists of 40 small photo-voltaic cells, which are solar-powered and sewn together in a specific manner. It generates an ample amount of current to serve as the USB drive for the operation of small electronic devices, with a USB port. The creation is both thin and flexible for use and wear.
Schneider recalls how the idea of this unique swimsuit came into play: I was in graduate school at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU taking a sustainability course. This, as the designer describes is an engineering school for artists and an art school for engineers.
Schneider continues,It was the first day and we were going around the table brainstorming ideas for sustainable products and how to affect change on a local level.
I didn't really have anything exciting so I leaned over to my friend and just jokingly said that I was going to make a bikini that could cool your beer at the beach.
Shortly thereafter, Schneider pondered the idea and with a technical approach utilizing photovoltaic cells and a Peltier junction (thermoelectric effect), the designer realized this idea to be a reality.
The original bikini however didn't have enough surface area to kick out the juice necessary to power the Peltier junction to cool the beer, so I downgraded to a lower power device. I plugged in my iPod and it worked, said Scheider.
As far as the universal safety precaution of keeping electronics away from water, Schneider assures there isn't any safety hazard associated with the iKini except maybe a little bit of sunburn, the designer joked.
Schneider explains, that the output of the suit is a small 5 volts DC and there is no energy actually stored by the suit. It's just fine to take it in the water.
The designer also goes on to further to explain that the swimsuit wearer must be completely dry prior to charging up your electronics for it to fully function.
The cost to rock out in this exclusive iKini can range from $500 USD to $1,500 USD and up considering each bikini is priced according to design and function.
The parts are sourced and custom ordered, and we plan a design and start to get to work, the designer says.
There has also been interest and buzz from different facets of the fashion world, including fashion shows and boutiques. And it doesn't stop at a sun-powered swimsuit for Schneider.
The designer also reveals that he would like to develop swimming trunks for guys that can keep drinks cold. We're currently building and testing prototypes for the iDrink. It's just going to have to have more surface area so we're using men's board shorts.
Schneider continues, I can't wait to be able to model one myself!
To see other wearable and computing creations by designer Andrew Schneider, click here.