Solar ski helmet opens off-grid power possibilites

Solar_ski_helmetPhoto: Fraunhofer IZM

There was a time when the ski resort experience was not punctuated by the sound of ringtones and "hey, is my GoPro on?" But those days are gone forever. You may or may not lament this. But our desire to take technology with us when we go outside has led to considerable R&D in the area of energy harvesting and wearable technology.

One result of this is a helmet with an embedded solar panel. It's the result of a breakthrough at Fraunhofer IZM, a German firm that develops new ways to package and produce technologies. In this case, the company found a way to mount small monocrystalline silicon solar cells on a three-dimensional curved surface without significantly losing the cell's efficiency (its ability to generate power from sunlight). 

The power is stored in a battery pack that powers headphones and a mic, all of which are integrated into the helmet. The user wears a glove with an integrate display, controls and battery. This links wirelessly to the helmet, and the helmet uses a Bluetooth link to communicate with the user's phone. Yes, we are becoming cyborgs. 

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