The world of wearable technology is coming alive recently with gadgets that purport to offer the ability to charge an electronic device without actually needing a charger and cable. One of the most intriquing of these is the Sound Charge t-shirt by Orange UK, a French telecommunications company with a penchant for coming up with strange and fun ways to charge a cell phone at the yearly Glastonbury Festival.
Each year the company creates and tests a prototype phone charging device. Previously, a pair of boots called â€œPower Welliesâ€ were developed, a pair of boots that could convert the heat energy generated by the wearer’s feet into an electrical charge. The boots offered only about an hour of charge time, however, after a full day of walking in them.
What is the Sound Charge?
Simply put, the Sound Charge t-shirt uses external sound to generate an electric charge. This is, of course, the reason the Glastonbury Festival was used as the testing ground for this piece of wearable tech. As part of the testing process, the Sound Charge shirt was worn throughout the festival and monitored to determine which live bands were â€œbetter to charge toâ€.
According to Orange UK, the Sound Charge is capable of producing about 6 watt hours, or enough to completely charge two mobile phones. One must assume, however, that the type of music (or other external sound) the shirt is exposed to will directly affect the shirt’s power production capabilities. Presumable the Sound Charge shirt will react better, and charge more efficiently, when exposed to a heavy metal band, while elevator music will likely not work well at all. Best off all, says Orange, the shirt can be washed, as the electronic parts are removable.
How does it work?
The Sound Charge t-shirt uses a product called piezoelectric film, which converts pressure into electricity by compressing a series of interlaced quartz crystals. Once converted this electrical charge is then stored in a battery, which in turn transfers electricity to a cell phone once it has been plugged in. The system utilizes external sounds as a catalyst. Since the sounds we hear around us are actually vibrations that are picked up by our ears, the Sound Charge t-shirt is able to pick up these sound waves and use them to create a source of energy.
Piezoelectricity is the scientific term for the electrical charge that accumulates in certain solid materials, such as crystals, ceramics, and even bone and DNA, as a result of applied mechanical stress. In other words, electricity that is produced by pressure.Â Although the use of piezoelectricity is not widely understood by the average person, it has actually been around for quite some time. It was discovered over 100 years ago, in fact, by a pair of French physicists.
I want one! Where can I get it?
While the Sound Charge concept sounds like a great idea, and a fun item of clothing, it is, unfortunately, not currently available for sale. Whether Orange ever actually intends to manufacture and release the produce to the general public is unknown, and the company isn’t saying. One thing is for certain, though: the Sound Charge shirt is a revolutionary idea, and one we’d love to see make it to the public.