Sun-powered ski helmet

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute IZM (Germany) have developed a three-dimensional solar module mounted on a ski helmet. Using the method invented by scientists for the first time, it was possible to reliably and almost imperceptibly adapt powerful solar cells to the curved surface of a helmet.
For the most complete supply of energy, an integrated communication module is placed directly in the helmet: stereo headphones or a headset work with the help of energy generated through solar cells on the surface of the helmet. It is possible to wirelessly connect a mobile device, such as a smartphone or an MP3 player. Using Bluetooth installed on the glove, the user gets direct access for incoming calls, while the gloves themselves do not need to be removed in the cold.
The user receives a communication system that is completely integrated into the ski equipment without burdensome wires and almost no extra burden.

How it works?

The headset is directly powered by the newly invented solar module. This contributes to a full supply of energy in all weather conditions, however, only if extensive solar cells with very high efficiency (> 20%) are used.
The greatest difficulty for scientists was the optimal fit of the module to the uneven, curved surfaces of the helmet. Until now, this has been possible only by incorporating very small solar modules on such a difficult surface.

To solve the problem, the developer institute introduced a new technology in which high-performance monocrystalline silicon solar cells are segmented in small chips, so they can also be used in a three-dimensional, curved shape. The risk of breakdown of an individual element under local mechanical load is therefore also greatly reduced. And thanks to the redundant design of solar panels, the flawless operation of the entire system is guaranteed, even if an individual element is damaged.

Possible applications

As developments show, this highly reliable technology can be applied not only to optimize the communication of a skier. The power supply, made in the form of a compact device, can be easily adapted for other curved surfaces, for example, for backpacks, parts of clothing, body parts, as well as motorcycle and bicycle helmets, helmets for lifeguards, etc.
It is convenient to integrate a module with a rated power of 2 W on a regular helmet, which corresponds to the power consumption of the same smartphone.

There are disadvantages

Low temperatures or sharp temperature changes in the places of use of the device should be especially taken into account, because when the solar cells work at low temperatures, the battery life is significantly reduced. At temperatures below 0 ° C, charging the battery is also ineffective or not possible at all. Using the integrated communication module without interruption is possible with a full supply of energy produced directly by means of a solar battery in sufficient light.
In addition, during the period of non-use of the helmet, you can safely charge your smartphone or MP3 player directly from the battery. Search outlet, developers say, is a thing of the past. Today's rate is the use of solar energy while preserving the environment.

When to market?

Currently, the prototype of a helmet using the energy of the Sun is presented to the public, and scientists are still busy with field tests of the device and its redesign. It is promised that these types of helmets will be introduced to the market by one of the leading manufacturers of this element of ski equipment at the end of this year, and the retail price will be about 300 euros.

More information about the project on the source site: