One of the great British summer traditions is getting the family together, squeezing as much stuff as humanly possible in a car and go camping — something that always ends up in bad weather, poor hygiene and a good time had by all. But to be honest it hasn’t really been brought into the electronic age and that is what Orange have been putting their mind to.
This concept all-singing-all-dancing solar tent has been unveiled in conjunction with the opening of Glastonbury (as Orange are one of the many sponsors) and although some of the details may be more from the realms of the ideal than that of reality it could well be the direction in which camping is going.
So what’s it got that makes it so special? Well, the main inspiration behind it (and what makes the whole thing actually work) is the new flexible photovoltaics which are currently being developed. As shown in the picture they would cover the top of the tent, and would absorb energy from the ever-present sun (yes, that was sarcastic) throughout the day — these solar panels will be movable to catch the best angle and thus most energy.
This energy would then be transferred to four main areas — heating, lighting, communications and recharging, none of which you would normally expect to find in a tent! The first (heating) probably seems to be the most surprising — why would you bother to try and heat it up when it will all be lost through the thin canvas? Well, we don’t know the answer to that question, but we do know that it will work through the floor which will be nice in the middle of winter!
The lighting part can be subdivided into the obvious internal and external sections — the use for the former is fairly obvious but we haven’t really seen external lights on tents before (and probably for a good reason!). Apart from looking kinda cool these external lights would be equipped with ‘Glo-cation’ technology which would allow you to turn them on by SMS or using an RFID tag which would allow you to easily find your tent. Or freak people out… your choice!
It will also be equipped with Wi-Fi to cover the communications aspect, whether or not this will be a booster or a router we don’t know but regardless being able to contact people when out in a field somewhere would be nice! And of course, when your laptop or phone runs out of juice you can just pop it in the recharging pouch which would use the wireless charging technology currently being introduced into the market.
So, if you ignore the fact that this is currently little more than a product of some 3D modelling software, this looks pretty neat and although many hardcore campers will sneer and turn their noses up I’m sure the majority of people would love to have a few more creature comforts when out camping — and this in itself could well introduce many more to this way of holiday!
This is not to say that it couldn’t become a reality — none of the technology is particularly advanced (with the exception of the flexible photovoltaics) and it is really only the practical problem of actually combining it together in a solar tent that doesn’t weigh a tonne and is the size of a small lorry that is stopping this becoming a reality.