Soft Rocker: Sculptural Solar-Powered Outdoor Lounger
Lay back and relax outdoors with your laptop, tablet or phone without any fear of losing juice. The SOFT Rocker by architecture students at MIT is a teardrop-shaped lounger with built-in lighting and solar panels that power up small electronic devices.
Flexible solar panels follow the curve of the rocker’s ‘roof,’ feeding a 12 amp-hour battery that provides power via USB to gadgets and even chilled drink dispensers. The rockers rotate on their bases so the users can follow the movements of the sun throughout the day.
The user also has the power to angle the solar panels higher or lower depending on how they lay inside the rocker, acting as a ‘second axis’ of the solar tracker. The MIT team wanted an interactive experience, making energy generation something the user can participate in rather than something that happens behind a fence or wall in a large-scale facility.
The rocker is made of flat MDF panels developed using the ‘zipshape’ process, in which flat-packed materials are laser-cut in a way that resembles rows of teeth and then interlocked with each other to produce a strong yet flexible result. The individual panels are glued together and then vacuum-sealed in plastic bags until dry.