1 min read.Updated: 08 Jul 2021, 10:41 AM ISTBloomberg
Capable of self-charging from either the sun or indoor lighting, this headphone promises users 'virtually infinite playtime' without the need for finding an electrical socket.
Solar panels already changed the game for large-scale utilities and many people with roofs over their heads. Now, electronics makers are turning to the technology to tackle a smaller-scale problem -- headphones running out of power.
Swedish startup Exeger is pushing the trend, putting its thin and flexible solar-cell material into headphones made by the company Urbanista, also from Sweden. Capable of self-charging from either the sun or indoor lighting, the roughly $200 product promises users “virtually infinite playtime" without the need for finding an electrical socket.
On Wednesday, Exeger announced another partnership with an affiliate of German sports giant Adidas AG. This venture -- which also includes headphone maker Zound Industries International AB, a licensee of Adidas -- is gearing its offering more toward athletes than Urbanista’s version. The product should be available for purchase in 2022 and hasn’t been priced yet.
“I want to personalize solar," Giovanni Fili, chief executive officer of Exeger, said in a phone interview of his goals for a technology many people probably associate with their monthly power bills.
Founded in 2009, Exeger’s material -- called “Powerfoyle" -- is also being used in a bike helmet from yet another Swedish company, POC, that automatically lights up when it gets dark. Exeger aims to put the solar cells in a variety of other products, including web-connected devices in homes and workplaces, Fili said.
Exeger-powered headphones can store enough energy from one hour in the bright sun to enable three hours of play, according to the CEO. A cloudy day would limit that to two hours. Even in dimmer settings, the headphones’ batteries would continue to slowly recharge.
For Adidas, this is a small market. The company teamed up with Zound in 2018 to develop lines of headphones to be sold under the German sports giant’s brand. In 2020, Adidas worked with 56 licensees in total, for products including shower gels and sunglasses. Royalty and commission income from those deals totaled 83 million euros ($98 million) last year, a fraction of the company’s total sales of 19.8 billion euros.
Exeger recently raised $38 million to fund construction of a second factory in Sweden. It previously attracted investments from Japan’s SoftBank Group, which has a 4.2% stake. Completing the factory will require raising more money, and it may consider an initial public offering in 2023, Fili said.