A Table That Charges Your iPhone

Designer Marjan van Aubel’s Current project, based on photosynthesis, uses a solar-powered table to charge electronics.

Think of the new project from London-based designer Marjan van Aubel as a multiplication table. Utilizing a dye-sensitised solar cell, which absorbs light in a fashion similar to chlorophyll in a plant, the Current Table generates energy that can charge devices and appliances through a series of USB ports. What makes the Current so futuristic is it’s ability to generate an electrical current from indoor light, in effect harvesting an untapped resource in any room in the house.

The project grew from her previous work on The Energy Collection, a cabinet with solar cell tableware, itself born out of in-depth research into the properties of color. Van Aubel collaborated with Michael Graetzel and Solaronix to develop applications for their dye-sensitized solar cells, technology that has been around for a few years, but is just starting to be fully utilized.

“It’s quite revolutionary,” says van Aubel of the technology on display in her new design. “You don’t need any running cables anymore. It means you can put the table on any place in the world you want and charge your devices anytime. It’s a work surface and a battery. You can plug in your devices through integrated USB ports on the side of the table, which offers a natural and sustainable solution to a work unit, fitting seamlessly into daily life.”

If that’s not cool enough, the table’s dual function gives you one more incentive to keep your workspace tidy. Right now, the table has four batteries per USB port and they can take about eight hours to fully charge, depending on the light strength in the room -- it would take a full day’s charge to replenish your iPhone battery. But the technology will only get better. As Van Aubel continues to develop the table and the technology, she wants to develop and incorporate more natural ways of charging appliances, making it easier for us to switch off, as if we’re setting a book aside before dinner.

“The future possibilities are endless,” she says, “from entire libraries, restaurants and meeting rooms. They could all be furnished with these surfaces, allowing people to charge their phones during a meeting or dinner. Utility and aesthetics are combined via the use of solar energy in everyday objects.”

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