Lowell, MA and Wilmington, DE—Konarka Technologies, Inc., a developer of Power Plastic™ that converts light to energy, and Textronics, Inc., a developer of electronic textiles, recently announced a joint development program to create prototype garments and accessories with portable, wearable power generation capabilities. The technology will utilize Konarka’s light-activated Power Plastic and Textronics’ electronic textile systems to provide renewable, wearable energy sources for personal plastic electrial Enclosures devices.
Today’s consumers are carrying more and more mobile communication, computing, and entertainment devices, such as phones, digital music players, cameras, and PDAs. Each of these devices relies on batteries, but their functionality is limited by the available power and the inconvenience of recharging or replacing batteries. By combining Konarka’s Power Plastic and Textronics’ electronic textile systems into wearable electronics, the companies expect to overcome the shortcomings of conventional power technologies by enabling consumers to have energy generation ability with them at all times.
“Our expertise with electronic textile materials, components and systems is a natural complement to Konarka’s Power Plastic development,” said Stacey Burr, Textronics’ chief executive officer. “Textronics’ technologies will allow for the end product to have a soft textile-like feel while Konarka’s materials will provide the renewable power.”
The resulting systems will be flexible and integrated in a way that retains many of the qualities of conventional textiles. As a result, the experience for consumers will be more like wearing a jacket or carrying a messenger bag than charging a device. Konarka’s added abilities to provide colored and patterned Power Plastic mold technology will allow for innovative aesthetic solutions.
“This joint effort will show designer-label manufacturers how we can bring new benefits to consumers through their everyday clothing and fashion accessories, including increased levels of convenience, freedom of use, and performance while minimally affecting the garments’ overall weight, size, or appearance,” said Daniel McGahn, Konarka’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
Konarka develops polymer photovoltaic products that provide a source of renewable power in a variety of form factors for commercial, industrial, government, and consumer applications. The company’s photovoltaic nanotechnology is focused on delivering lightweight, flexible, scalable and manufacturable products. Textronics is a developer and producer of electro-textiles (“e-textiles”), which are fabric systems that can conduct, warm, illuminate, or sense. The company’s unique technology portfolio uses the stretch and recovery properties of elastomeric materials to interact with electronic systems. The firm is a spin-off from INVISTA S.a.r.l., formerly DuPont Textiles and Interiors.