The Solar Bikini: iPhones, iPods, and tan lines

The Solar Bikini, for when you need to charge your iPhone on the beachTired of the power running out on your iPhone or iPod when you’re lounging on the beach? Finally there’s a way to charge them without going back to your car—thanks to a newly photovoltaic bikini designed by Andrew Schneider.

The bikini, made of traditional fabrics and covered with flexible photovoltaics encased in plastic, has female USB connections to charge various devices—or perhaps run a fan. It’s selling for $200. Although, Schneider hasn’t sold any yet.

“There’s been a lot of interest. It was more of a conceptual thing,” he said. “I was in graduate school in a sustainability course at NYU [i.e., New York University]. We were going around the table with ideas. As a joke I said that I wanted to do a bikini that could cool your beer at the beach, and a couple weeks later, I realized I could do it. So that‘s where it came from.”

But, with the limitations of solar, the swimsuit had to provide more coverage than a tiny bikini would allow.

“The real challenge was to get enough surface area to actually power something,” Schneider said. “The bikini was meant to be small and sexy. Solar power wants all the surface area it can get.”

To help do that both the top and bottom of the bikini are covered with the solar panels.

“There’s a thin strap along the back that allows the energy harvested from the top to be connected to the bottom,” he said.

Guys, don’t get jealous yet. Schneider’s also developing beer-cooling swimming trunks.

Yeah, you heard right, beer-cooling trunks. He’s a practical guy. The solar trunks will use what’s called a Peltier junction mechanism to produce thermoelectric cooling and could also have a charger, too.

“The plans are to have both, but the suggested feature is that it does have a Peltier junction,” he said. “It could include a [USB-connection] too so the guys could listen to their tunes too.”

But there’s an added incentive, he said. Guys can cool the beer and girls can play the tunes and share them.

“It’s a social networking garment,” he said. “I really am interested in it as a design object. I’m making the thing because I think it’s a good idea; it’s clever. This object can bring awareness to how alternative energy can be fun.”

Pictured: Who says you can't mix electricity generation and water sports? Wait.