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Solar-charging backpacks set for hike to market

G24 Innovations' flexible solar panels are heading to a Hong Kong company, which is preparing to build them into a variety of bags.

Mascotte's messenger bag prototype Mascotte

G24 Innovations has shipped its first flexible solar panels, which are destined for the outside of backpacks and other bags, the company said Wednesday.

The U.K. company's dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) are thin-film photovoltaics that can be manufactured in flexible rolls relatively cheaply. It is a material the U.S. Air Force has been looking into for use in its unmanned aerial vehicles for longer endurance.

G24's DSSC cells, which are designed to create electricity from indoor light as well as outdoor sunlight, will be put into commercial use by the manufacturer Mascotte Industrial Associates.

Solar backpack, duffel G24 Innovations

The Hong Kong-based company is integrating the DSSC panels into a line of backpacks, duffel bags, e-book covers, camera bags, and messenger bags that can then be tapped to recharge items like cell phones or cameras.

Mascotte plans to display its solar bags at this week's Hong Kong Electronics Fair, and the products could be available to consumers as soon as December, according to the company. Mascotte has already filled its Web site with photos of potential products.

While Mascotte won't be the first to offer solar recharging in a backpack and while it hasn't released its price list yet, the company's use of DSSC cells may make it the first to offer a bag at a reasonable price to the masses. In 2006, Tumi offered a limited edition PowerPack, which cost almost $700. In mid-2007, the Mana Solar Claw offered a $230 solar backpack cover.