Compact solar panels have been around for some time, but in a trade-off with portability many are too small to generate practical amounts of electricity over short periods. New designs, such as the Yolk Solar Paper, are capable of generating more electricity while maintaining a slim profile, but the HeLi-on further expands on the idea of portable power generation with a flexible solar cell that rolls out from a compact package to soak up more rays.
Not unlike a solar panel printing technique seen earlier this year, the HeLi-on is designed with polymer solar cells printed directly on a plastic foil. The carbon-based material is renewable, non-toxic, and, quite importantly, thin enough to be rolled for convenient storage. Even with the cells protected by foil on either side, the flexible panel is less than one millimeter thick, which allows it to be rolled up into a candy bar-like case measuring 4.4 x 1.4 x 1.1 in (11.3 x 3.6 x 2.8 cm) and weighing 3.7 oz (105 g).
The case includes an inbuilt rechargeable 2,600 mAh battery that stores the electricity generated by the flexible solar paneling when pulled out of the case. The solar cells are designed to generate up to 3 W of power under standard conditions, with electricity stored on the battery outputted to devices through a USB port. When done, the entire length of paneling rolls back inside by continually twisting one end. If there is no sun, the HeLi-on's battery can be charged via any USB wall adapter like a typical power bank.
There's no word on how long the final panel length will be, but the Danish startup says that the panels are designed to be effective and withstand outdoor weather conditions. However, while the panels are fully encapsulated and can be wiped clean or dry, the HeLi-on device itself isn't waterproof. While it may not track the sun like kirigami-inspired solar cells, its creators claim HeLi-on is sturdy and light enough to angle by hand.
The HeLi-on solar charger is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 186 percent of its KR$500,000 (approx. US$72,650) goal in 39 days, with another 21 days left to go. A pledge of KR$685 (US$100), which includes international shipping, sets you up with one HeLi-on in choice of blue, white, and black colors.
Check out the teaser video below to see how HeLi-on works.