A bikini incorporating thin, flexible solar film can produce enough solar energy to power an iPod, or other small gadgets.
Designed by Andrew Schneider, the custom-made bikini is retrofitted with 1” x 4” photovoltaic film strips sewn together in series with conductive thread. The cells terminate in a 5 volt regulator into a USB connection.
There's a similar idea produced by Triumph, the lingerie manufacturer, over on a blog about wearable technology. I thought it was a bit ugly really, just like a normal one-piece swimsuit with solar panels stuck on the front, whereas Schneider's bikini looks a bit more Barbarella. If you're going to have environmentally friendly clothing, the aesthetics are still relevant.
The solar bikini was shown at Unravel, an exhibition of fashion at Siggraph 2007, which focusses on computer graphics and interactive technology. It featured a range of innovative and experimental works in 'computational and conceptual couture', socially conscious fashion, science inspired form, and new technology in textiles. As a journalist commented, the aim was to show that the merging of textiles and technology can be elegant and need not resemble a robot's cast offs.
Schneider is working on a male version of the bikini with a larger surface area, (the iDrink) which will allegedly be able to produce enough voltage to chill a single beer in a special custom cooler. He's taking orders already!