To answer this question, Serious Wonder‘s Gray Scott made his way to this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017) and spoke to Sungun Chang, designer and CEO of solar startup company Yolk. Their specialty: developing paper-thin solar panels for electronic devices.
“Each panel can be connected with magnets,” said Chang. “So users can adjust the power output according to the device requirements.”
By using three connected solar panels, you would be able to fully charge an iPhone 7 on a sunny day at the same rate as that of a wall plugin. If you want to charge a tablet device, say an iPad, then you would need four connected solar panels. And as shown in the video provided by Gray, you can easily attach the panels onto a backpack for easy outdoors mobility.
The only problem thus far is Yolk’s inability of providing proper charging capabilities using incandescent lighting (indoors lighting). They are able to charge certain electronic devices, but nowhere near the amount of energy used by smartphones or tablets. Expect this to change over the next year or so.
What Yolk is providing here is a future of proliferated solar energy use under minimal conditions. Their paper-thin production allows them to be extremely lightweight and easily mobile. Wherever you go, so long the sun is shining, you’ll always have a means of charging your electronic devices. As time moves along, solar panels are only going to increase in efficiency and decrease in size. Eventually, they’ll be etched into our very fabric. Instead of attaching solar panels onto our bookbags, they’ll be the bag. This seamless integration is already being realized with Tesla’s solar roofing plans. It is only natural that we’ll soon witness the integration of solar energy into everything else.
Photo Credit: Yolk