Energy efficient solid state (LED) technology exists today that can help people who need access to electrical power and light. Even in small amounts, digital light can provide educational opportunities, improve community literacy and health, and increase daily household economic production. The people who will benefit the most from the introduction of these technologies are women and children who live in the world’s poorest countries. To implement this technology, we do not need to wait for the LED market to “mature”. We need to be inventive. We need to think differently about how solid state lighting can be designed and delivered in ways that are useful and acceptable to the practices of different cultures.
The prototype integrates photovoltaic energy harvesting capabilities with solid state lighting in a foldable textile workspace weighing 14 ounces. The Portable Workshop provides two and one half hours of digital light at 160 lumens with approximately fours hours of charge time. The design harvests energy from sunlight in two use configurations. The prototype can be worn as a sash with photocells positioned across the shoulder or it can be unfolded and opened as a canopy to expose the photocells for charging and provide a shaded work area. During the night, the textile form can be configured to provide the user with a choice of ambient or direct task light suitable for small scale craftwork, beading, sewing and repair activities. The Portable Workshop can be worn on the body, where it provides hands free lighting as a way finding benefit for Huichols, who often travel at night.
Portable Light is an interdisciplinary research, design and engineering project to create and implement new models for energy efficient electrical power and lighting. Portable Light applies creative processes and strategic integrative thinking to optimize existing semi-conductor technologies and create new applications to serve the large number of people—more than 2 billion—who do not have access to electric light or power. Portable Light is based upon the principle that global needs for technology development are inevitably interconnected. Knowledge, techniques, market solutions and data produced by the project benefit the “third” world and the “first” world where the need to imagine, design and develop energy efficient alternatives to the centralized and increasingly costly electrical grid is becoming ever more important.
The remarkable energy efficiency of high brightness solid state lighting (HBLEDs) means that a bright digital light of 80 lumens per watt (bright enough to read, work and illuminate areas at night) can be produced by a single miniature diode and powered by small areas of flexible photo-voltaic (solar panels). Portable Light expands the value of miniature solid state electronics by putting digital light into a textile medium to create cost effective, completely portable, off-the-grid light engines that can be deployed at a global scale wherever energy efficient electrical power and illumination are needed.