What is thought to be the first solar-powered jacket designed to carry, connect and charge portable devices has been launched by clothing maker Scottevest Inc (SeV) and Global Solar Energy, which develops and manufactures flexible solar cells.

The solar panels are attached to SeV's signature jacket, Version Three.0 Finetex, an all-weather jacket with removable sleeves and over 30 hidden pockets.

The jacket features the patent-pending Personal Area Network (PAN), a series of internal, hidden conduits which conceal wires associated with power sources and earbuds.

Global Solar's PowerFlex solar panels consist of flexible sun-absorbing material placed onto a thin stainless steel substrate. The panels convert sunlight into electricity that charges a hidden battery pack about the size of a deck of cards.

The battery pack can charge devices including cell phones, PDAs, Game Boys, MP3 players and other mobile devices.

The solar panels are removable and can be used separately from the jackets. Typical charge times in direct sunlight range from two to three hours, although direct sunlight is not required.

The jacket's battery can begin powering devices almost immediately after the solar panels are exposed to sunlight. Once the battery is fully charged, the panels can be removed and portable electronic devices can tap into the stored power.
 
"We believe this project represents the next logical step in consumer wearable computers. No longer will you have to rely on traditional power sources to recharge your mobile electronic devices.

"We expect solar panels together with the PAN to be incorporated into approximately 30 per cent of all outerwear in the next three to five years," said Scott Jordan, chairman and CEO of Scottevest Inc.

Scottevest's wholly-owned division, Technology Enabled Clothing, will work with Global Solar to integrate solar technology into other mainstream outerwear clothing products.

The solar-powered jackets sell for $425.