We talk with Kenneth Hitchens, lead designer for Solpro, about Solpro’s latest solar-powered innovation: Tag. With tracking technology from TrackR, Tag lets you charge your phone from anywhere while also keeping track of your bag. Their Indiegogo campaign launched July 6.
TRACKR TEAM: Your most recent product on the market is the Helios, a portable solar-powered battery bank, available at select Apple stores. What’s different about Tag?
KENNETH HITCHENS: We’re thrilled to have a product on the market that lets you charge multiple devices at the same time, using a portable solar-powered battery bank. Helios is perfect if you’re outdoors all day and need a charge. It’s great for camping trips, hiking, boating and fishing.
The Tag is smaller than the Helios. It’s designed specially to charge your phone. You can attach it to your bag. So you charge up Tag without even intending to. Just while you’re sitting at the beach – or walking to lunch.
And it’s Bluetooth-enabled, with TrackR technology embedded inside it. So it has a dual purpose. If you lose the bag your Tag is hanging on, you can easily find it with your phone!
TT: How did you decide to partner with TrackR?
KH: Since we do a lot of traveling at Solpro, we’ve looked at all those awesome smart bags. But the price point for each bag is quite high and we travel with a lot of bags. It really adds up.
We wanted to get all the benefits of a smart bag – device charging, tracking ability, location awareness – for a lot less money.
With Tag, you get all those benefits and can still use your existing bag. Personally, I have a real sentimental attachment to some of my bags, like Indiana Jones and his courier bag!
TT: What’s the story behind Tag? How did you come up with the idea? It’s such a good idea!
KH: Our mission is to make solar relevant to people’s everyday lives.
After perfecting Helios, we wanted to find a way to make a product that could become a daily essential.
We asked ourselves: What’s the biggest problem people have today with their phones?
We realized that when we’re traveling for business, we don’t usually need a full charge on our phones. Phone batteries today are so good that to get through the day you really just need 50% battery.
Realizing that was key. Because it means we don’t need to create a huge battery to lug around. The battery can be even smaller.
Battery banks are great, but you have to remember to charge them. I’ve bought so many battery banks at airport shops because I’ve forgotten to charge. I must own half a dozen!
That’s how we got to Tag. It’s a smaller battery to keep your phone going.
Best of all, it’s so ridiculously easy to charge Tag, you forget you’re doing it.
TT: The integration with OtterBox makes it even easier to keep your phone charged.
KH: We are very excited to partner with OtterBox in order to provide another easy way to carry Tag. They’re the #1 selling mobile device case for a reason. We’ve designed a special accessory for Tag as part of OtterBox’s uniVERSE case system.
It lets you charge your iPhone and still have one free USB-C port to charge any of your other devices! Tag slides right onto the back of your OtterBox case.
If you’ve got an OtterBox case with solar power from Tag and TrackR’s finding ability, your phone is protected against everything!
TT: How do you think Tag can help show people the power of solar?
KH: Being able to charge your mobile devices when you don’t have access to an electrical outlet is a real problem everyone has. With Tag, even when you’re just out running an errand, you’re charging your battery.
That’s the power of solar.
Our hope is that once we show our customers how solar can be relevant to their lives, it will only grow from there. And help move us all towards a renewable energy future!
TT: Tag’s design is so sleek and streamlined, as all the Solpro products are. How did you approach the design of Tag?
KH: We approached it from a minimalist aesthetic. The whole Solpro team really appreciates the details that go into designing a product.
As a designer, I’m looking at what goes into every curve. We want to create modern contemporary devices. We see our products as in line with what Apple and Tesla are doing – even what Quip is doing with toothbrushes.
It’s a lot of fun to make designs that work around issues with technology and user experience.
TT: How does Tag’s design solve a technology or user experience issue?
KH: One of the big design challenges today is that a lot of mobile devices are moving to USB-C. But we wanted to create a product that would let you be ready for the future, while not having to carry around a bunch of different cables.
So we created the ribbon cable, which works with Tag’s dual role USB-C ports, and we include a USB-A adapter.
We also designed a bumper to make it easy to attach to a bag. It also provides water resistance and dust proofing for the USB ports. If you’re at the beach all day or it gets rained on, it’s no big deal.
When it came to choosing the form, we thought the shape of a credit card was a good choice. It’s a reference everyone knows!
We can’t wait to transform all our bags into solar-powered charging stations that can’t be lost! Learn more about Tag and the Solpro’s Indiegogo campaign here.