A remarkable project spearheaded by Pop!Tech in collaboration Sheila Kennedy creator of the Portable Light Project and Timbuk2, a custom bag company in San Francisco is the FLAP Bag which “enables the world’s poorest people to create and own energy harvesting textiles, providing the benefits of renewable power as an integral part of everyday life”.
The FLAP (Flexible Light And Power) Bag has a flexible solar panel integrated into the removable flap, a USB connection and a LED light in the shoulder strap.
FLAP Bag is following a similar idea shown in the portable light project where Sheila Kennedy investigated ways on how to integrate solar panels into bags to generate electrical energy providing light to people living in remote areas where electrical power is not always coming out of a wall socket of each house.
Pop!Tech’s collaborative project teamed up with Afrigadget blogger Erik Hersman to carry out field tests in areas the FLAP Bag has been designed for: rural areas in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
He will distribute FLAP Bags to people from many walks of life with the goal to find out if the FLAP Bag concept is useful, usable and if it’s adaptable to everyday life in Africa.
Some might think: expensive as flexible solar panels are, how will those people ever effort them? For one, the costs for flexible solar panels will come down once the demand goes up.
Secondly, if the usefulness comes out clearly, donations which go now to projects, sometimes unsuccessfully, to provide electrical power and with it access to information/education to rural areas, could subsidize the distribution of concepts like the FLAP Bag.
And lastly, soft, wearable technologies are more robust, easier to integrate into the daily fabric of life, making them a highly viable option to bring technology to rural areas.