Deploying solar-lighting solutions in places where power grids are non-existent isn't a new idea; everyone from major corporations to NGOs to individuals think they have the solution. But Olafur Eliasson and Frederik Ottesen have something they think the others lack — good design. Eliasson, an artist and industrial designer, and Ottesen, a pioneer in solar-powered flight technologies, teamed up to create the LittleSun: a light-weight, solar-charged LED lamp. What makes the flower-shaped LittleSun different from other solar solutions on the market is its simple all-in-one-design.
On one side of the LittleSun is a solar panel for charging during the day; on the other is a 105 lumen LED lamp. The designers claim that a four-hour charge in the sun will produce about five hours of LED light. The lamp's small size makes it easy to mount or carry around for charging during the day, as well as hang at night. On top of that, Eliasson and Ottesen say the LittleSun is less expensive and safer to operate than a kerosene lantern — they claim the lamp's three-year life span is equivalent in cost to operating a kerosene lamp for three to six months.
The LittleSun is being targeted at rural communities in Asia, Africa, and South America, and its designers are hoping to release the product this summer. While it might not be the first solar-lighting solution aimed at the developing world, it certainly seems like a unique answer to the problem.