When many of us think about solar energy we imagine large, rigid panels covering the roof of a building. Solar energy technologies have come a long way from those days, and in addition to seeing panels covering rooftops, you're also likely to see solar energy technology popping up in unexpected places, including backpacks. Converting sunlight into energy through photovoltaic devices is one of the greenest energy options (despite the manufacturing pollution). When in use, these cells sit in the sun, absorb rays and release nothing more than electrons. Capture these and you can generate electricity.
What if you could capture and use the sun's energy with an accessory you likely wear every day: your sunglasses. Designers Hyun-Joong Kim and Kwang-Seok Jeong have created some conceptual shades that will not only protect your eyes from the sun's dangerous UV rays but also convert those rays into electrical energy -- energy that could be used to power a small device such as an iPod, PSP or mobile phone whether you're on the beach or on the go.
These sunglasses, called Self-Energy Converting Sunglasses or SIG for short, have special lenses that are made with dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC). The lenses convert solar energy into electricity that you can tap into by plugging a device into the power jack at the back of the frame. While it's not a lot of power, it should be enough to juice a battery for a few extra minutes or keep the tunes playing while you bask on the beach. While there's no retail date or price on these sunglasses yet, the designers had cost in mind when they came up with the idea. The lenses use cheap, organic dye to provide this clean energy. How can a cheap organic dye translate into clean battery power? It's all in the DSC technology.