Dutch designer Mathijs Labadie has created an indoor table that can power electronics via solar energy.
Labadie designed the Current Table in conjunction with Swiss solar company Solaronix, which developed the solar glass technology uses for the table’s surface. The table is embedded with USB ports that allow the user to charge items and minimise the running of cables to a power point.
While there has been an array of solar powered table concepts, the Current Table is specifically designed for indoor use.
It is designed to serve a technology market as it operates both as a practical work surface and as a battery. It also explores a new way of harnessing the energy in the indoor environment.
Unlike external solar panels, which require direct sunlight, the Current Table can operate with diffused light. Its surface is made up of coloured and transparent photovoltaic panels which feature de-synthesised solar cells that use the properties of colour to create the electric current.
This process has been likened to photosynthesis, in which plants use green chlorophyll pigments to convert sunlight into energy.
According to Solaronix, the pattern of the glass was also “tuned” to match the aesthetic of the furniture piece itself.
“During the day, ambient light is converted to electricity by the photovoltaic glass surface and stored in batteries elegantly dissimulated in the table structure,” the company’s website reads.
A video created for the Current Table, emphasises the importance of users keeping the workspace clean and tidy in order to maximise the solar gain for the table. It also recognises the commercial application available in “libraries, restaurants and meeting rooms.”
Notably, the concept could be considered useful in a workplace environment where technology is central and designers and consistently look for ways to maximise the functionality of furnishings.
A 2013 study by Dr. Michael O’Neill, senior director of workplace research at Knoll Inc pointed out a flaw with “embedded” technology – namely that it could prove limiting in some ways.
“In choosing furniture, consider the shorter lifespan of technology when compared to the longer lifespan of office furniture. Avoid the dilemma in which furniture tied to old technology becomes prematurely obsolete,” the report states. “While office furniture often has an expected lifecycle of about ten years, the lifecycle of technology is about 18 – 24 months. As a result technology should not be “rigidly integrated” into furniture that has 5 – 7 times its lifespan.”
The Current Table supports USB connectivity – a type of port that has been around since the 1990s – offering more longevity than a host of other furniture items that specifically connect to branded technology such as iPhone or Android smart devices.