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Orange unveils solar concept tent at Glastonbury

Photovoltaic concept camping tent would power portable devices, "Glo-cation" technology, and radiant floor heating.

Artist's rendering of Orange's solar concept tent.

Telecom giant Orange unveiled a concept solar tent in conjunction with the opening of this year's Glastonbury music festival in the U.K.

Inspired by the new flexible photovoltaics in development, the tent--if produced for consumers--would be covered in a semi-photovoltaic fabric woven with both coated solar threads and conventional threads to form a solar shell that could be adjusted to face optimum sun throughout the day.

The solar energy would then be channeled into four main power uses: heating, lighting, communications, and recharging.

The goal of Kaleidoscope, the design firmworking in conjunction with Orange, was to create a tent that would help attendees of Glastonbury, the U.K.'s famous open-field music festival, which is sponsored in part by Orange, to keep their bearings and to keep in touch with friends while on site.

Most interesting is the idea of a wireless charging pouch. Instead of plugging in, people would drop their phone or other portable device into a pouch inside the tent. A coil in the pouch would carry an electric current that generates a magnetic field to produce a charge, which would then serve to power the device's battery.

In addition, some of the captured solar energy would be channeled toward radiant floor heating--something that would be much appreciated by anyone sleeping on the commonly damp British ground.

Artist's rendering of solar tent emitting glow at night. Orange

And how many times have you been to a field festival only to spend an eternity trying to find your way back to your camp? The development team for the tent noticed that this wandering was a common problem at Glastonbury each year.

For that reason, the tent would be equipped with "Glo-cation" technology that would allow users to find their tents by sending an SMS message or using an automatic RFID tag similar to the ones used in London's Underground Oyster subway cards. The tent would then glow in response.

The tent would also serve to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal, though it's unclear whether it would have a Wi-Fi booster for a central area hub or act as an independent Wi-Fi router.

While this week England happens to be pretty bright and sunny, I'm not so sure a solar tent is the way to go in the land of perpetual, mild drizzling. But I could certainly see this being a favorite at Burning Man.