Solar-powered phones like the Samsung Blue Earth are great eco-friendly concepts, in theory.
But let's be frank with ourselves. We won't see these sun-worshipping devices replacing mainstream handsets in the near future. Meanwhile, we still have a mountain of gadgets that need to be juiced regularly, which is why designer Knut Karlsen's idea of integrating flexible solar cells onto rechargeable batteries could be a more immediate solution to reducing our carbon footprint.
Named after a feline basking in the sun, SunCat involves flexible solar-cell strips glued to nickel metal hydride rechargeable cells.
With a conductive silver pen and flat wires recycled from a broken Canon lens, Knut managed to get a weak trickle charge connection. He admitted that the first prototype wasn't ideal, but he's working on a second model that may include a display for checking battery life and capacitors for more efficient charging.
A downside to this is that the battery will have to be smaller, according to Knut, if these extra components were to be added into a regular cell. But we're confident that these issues can be worked out along the way.