Solar-powered gadgets are nothing new — Logitech has been selling keyboards that you never have to plug in for over a decade. But an audio headset in which hardly any solar cells are incorporated into the design? Until this week we had only tried one of them. Now there are at least four.
On Tuesday, Adidas announced the RPT-02 SOL, a $230 pair of self-charging Bluetooth cans with Exeger’s Powerfoyle solar cells built into the recycled plastic headband (via Engadget). That’s the exact same solar tech found in the Urbanista Los Angeles solar headphones we reviewed last year, and they also cite the same 80 hours of “backup” battery life, even in a pitch-black room.
We haven’t tried the Adidas headset yet, but the solar technology totally worked when my colleague Jon Porter tried it in the Urbanistas. Even indoors, without charging them in the sun, we saw impressively low battery consumption. “The great thing about Los Angeles headphones is that you don’t really have to think about them,” Jon wrote. Adidas makes no mention of active noise cancellation (something Los Angeles has) or fancy audio codecs, but it does have IPX4 water resistance, a microphone and a USB-C port for backup charging. And Engadget writes that their predecessor, made by Zound, had remarkably good sound.
Urbanista is now also bringing the Powerfoyle panels to a set of true wireless earbuds (well, technically, their charging case), and a company called Blue Tiger also just said it’s the “world’s first solar-powered communications headset.” which goes on sale late last month, again with the Powerfoyle cells and a noise-cancelling boom mic. The Blue Tiger Solare costs $220.
I also saw this upcoming POC Omne Eternal bike helmet, which uses the cells to power a flashing rear safety clipper.
It was not a given that this technology would get off the ground, even in this preliminary degree. JBL crowdfunded headphones like these on Indiegogo in 2019, but decided to cancel the project and issue refunds. Another Indiegogo campaign for solar earbuds by a company called Pearl Audio is currently “under review”.
But the technology really works, at least for low-power devices like this one. And it’s very nice if you don’t have to think about charging gadgets.
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