Granola Stroller charger lets the sun shine in to charge your gadgets

photo-mainEco-awareness is an increasingly important design principle being implemented to confront future challenges. Every little innovation contributes towards its spread, which is why the Granola Strolla impresses. The product is a portable solar-powered charger for all your USB devices, reliably charging them by using a multi-directional design that effectively drinks up the sun no matter what orientation it may be in. The whole of the charger features environmentally materials like HPDE and Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, both of which are non-toxic and last longer. This product could help solve the problem of dead devices and wasteful energy all in one. Econauts can pick up their very own, along with a swag bag, for $55. This will help the company reach their goal of $20,000 by mid-October 2014.

Sensors/IoT Smart Home

GeckoEye camera taps solar energy to shed light on intruders

geckoeyeSecurity is a massive concern these days  — not just digitally, but in the physical world as well. GeckoEye offers versatile security in the home, car, or office in a stylish, compact package. Shaped like a disc, GeckoEye can be mounted on any surface and provide security recording of any environment. On its own, GeckoEye isn’t all that revolutionary, though the ability to be mounted anywhere is a big help. What really serves to set GeckoEye apart is the solar panels on the device that can keep it powered without moving it to be charged. Monthly fees for cloud storage and an overall lack of features may hurt the device, but the solar charging is a great benefit. GeckoEye can be picked up for $189.


SunJack panels fold out to soak in a lot of solar energy

SunJackThey always say that it’s not good to leave your devices out in the sun. Now, it’s actually good for them! SunJack harnesses solar power to charge your iPhone or iPad. This black case comes in two wattages, 14 and 20, to charge several devices at once with only a few hours of sun. The SunJack isn’t the first crowdfunded product to harness our favorite star to charge out gadgets, but is definitely among the most powerful of these to date. The 14W version costs $100 and the 20W costs $200. SunJack has a $33,000 goal in a 33-day Kickstarter campaign.

Chargers/Batteries Smartwatches/Bands

Carbon stores solar energy on your wrist, makes a fashion statement

The Premise. Having a cell phone or tablet run out of battery is pretty much the modern-day indication that it’s time to get back home ASAP. Many people feel naked without their devices, so why not wear something that can keep them running without tethering users to their homes?

The Product.  The team at EnergyBionics has a solution – the Carbon Precision Solar Charger. This small device is worn like and even resembles a modern, designer watch. Instead of a clock face, the Carbon houses a solar panel that can store energy equivalent to roughly 3 hours of additional phone life. By pressing a button and unscrewing a cap, the Carbon can connect to most major mobile computing devices and keep them going for a while longer. If Carbon needs to be charged in a flash (and not one of sunlight), it can connect via USB to any traditionally powered device to charge up without the assistance of the sun.

The Pitch. Like the product itself, EnergyBionics puts forth a simple, no-frills presentation video that explains the Carbon and how to use it, including a demo with an iPhone 4s. The other campaign materials show off the optional crush proof case, currently available cable adapters, and go over the technical details. At this point the Carbon is compatible with most phones and tablets, personal music players, and even the PlayStation Vita. EnergyBionics needs $48,000 to get three major certifications, manufacture the small, initial run, and create the molds for the internal parts.

The Perks.  A minimum pledge of $95 is required to get a hold of the Carbon Precision Solar Charger with a black silicone strap, available in August 2014. Getting one with all the bells and whistles (leather strap and black crush proof case) is possible with a $130 pledge.

The Potential. Portable chargers, and indeed solar chargers for mobile devices are already plentiful on the market. Some DIY-ers have even made similar devices to the Carbon, but what makes this particular item so marketable is the sleek design and the sturdy components. The Carbon is perhaps even fashionable, which means a lot for a device that someone has to wear, regardless of how well it functions. Obviously, it would be even greater if the designers could figure out some way to get an actual watch face overlay on there. Nonetheless, gadget stores and even cell phone mall kiosks will want to upsell this kind of item to people in the process of upgrading their phones.

Camping Food and Beverage

Anywhere-Fridge can use the sun to charge up a chill

AnywhereFridgeCamping or picnicking can be messy activities, especially when it comes to food. Both are made a lot easier with the Anywhere Fridge-Freezer-Warmer. As a portable three-in-one food storage product, the Anywhere Fridge-Freezer-Warmer can recharge in the car and is also solar powered. It travels well and looks like a suitcase, complete with a handle and wheels on the bottom. Prices for the Fridge range from $199 for the small version to $499 for the large version, a significant discount over the Solar Cooler, with an estimated delivery date of August 2014. The Anywhere-Fridge is looking to raise $125,000 on Indiegogo in a 60-day campaign.

Food and Beverage

Pricey SolarCooler uses light, irony to keep your cold ones cold

The Premise. If there’s anything that can ruin a trip to the beach, it’s a cooler full of warm beverages or or water-logged sandwiches. It’s a scenario that most people have found themselves in at least once or twice, yet it seems unavoidable unless you want to keep running back and forth between the beach and an ice machine. After all, even the best coolers start to lose their cold temperatures after sitting in the sun for a long enough period of time.

The Product. The developers behind the SolarCooler are billing the product as “the world’s first solar-powered refrigerating cooler.” Converting energy from that great gaseous giver of life, the cooler maintains a low temperature throughout the entire day, perfect for keeping drinks and food cold and ready to consume. It even makes its own ice. In addition, the SolarCooler can be used to charge cell phones and other USB-powered devices, making it somewhat of an all-purpose beach workhorse.

The Pitch. The TechCrunch video posted on the SolarCooler’s campaign page does a decent job of explaining what the device is capable of, but it would’ve been nice to have seen a more “produced” video that shows how the device works. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it makes the SolarCooler team appear a bit less professional than they could. One interesting aspect of the pitch, though, is that the SolarCooler is being touted as a solution to keeping vaccines at the perfect temperature for transport. This makes the product a bit more viable than it would be if it were only used to keep beverages cool.

The Perks. Sunlight may be free, but the SolarCooler is anything but. An “early bird” special price of $950 (delivered in June 2014) may seem exceptionally high as it is, but the cooler will actually be retailing for $1,200. One look at the price is enough to send people running away in a sweat no chilled beverage can aid. But, as the project owners point out, the SolarCooler’s features extend beyond recreation to include the transport of potentially life-saving vaccines. Indeed a $5,000 pledge will allow philanthropists to “adopt” a full vaccine SolarCooler.

The Potential. The price, bulkiness and overall novelty of the SolarCooler makes it less than ideal for those who are looking for a simple solution for keeping drinks cold on a hot day. If there’s any market for this product at all, it could potentially be for vaccine transport. Still, at about 40 times the cost of your average chiller, it’s tough to see demand for the SolarCooler heating up.