Transparent solar panel enables first solar-powered smartwatch
Solar-powered watches are nothing new, but being more power-hungry beasts, solar-powered smartwatches are a different story. A San Francisco-based startup called LunaR now claims to have bridged the divide by developing a smartwatch that never needs to be plugged in for a recharge as it draws all the energy it needs from the sun.
The LunaR, which is the subject of a crowdfunding campaign, appears a rather stylish timepiece, with a clean and basic watch face that works with a companion smartphone app to offer much of the functionality we've come to expect from today's smartwatches. That includes sleep and activity tracking, along with integration with social media and messaging apps to bring notifications to the wrist through an embedded LED array.
At the heart of what the creators claim is the world's first solar-powered smartwatch is (unsurprisingly) a breakthrough in solar technology. With a clear solar panel layered over the watch face, it's claimed the LunaR can harvest energy from both natural and artificial light. So much so, that with as little as one hour of daily exposure to light, its 110-mAh lithium-polymer battery can apparently stay fully charged.
There are a couple of other handy-sounding features. One is an ability to automatically update the time it displays depending on where you are in the world by using the phone's GPS. It will automatically display sunrise and sunset info, integrates with apps like Apple Health and Google Health, and is waterproof up to 50 m (164 ft). It also comes with a USB charger should you need to recharge the conventional way.
It must be said, a real market-ready device that is energy independent like this would be a sizable leap for consumer electronics. Japanese company Kyocera has been toiling away at a solar-powered display for its phones for years, finally showing off a prototype at Mobile World Congress last year. Granted smartwatches and smartphones are different products with different energy needs, but it does show that such things don't come easy.
Who knows, maybe the folks behind LunaR are packing some game-breaking solar tech. Almost 500 backers on Kickstarter believe that they might be, pledging almost US$90,000 at the time of writing. If you too are keen to get behind the project, then an early pledge of $138 will have a LunaR watch headed your way in December if all goes to plan.
You can check out the pitch video below.