Hannah June Lueptow
The FireFly Backpack is a simple yet innovative idea with an elegant design. This bag which turns into a lantern would be great for a variety of different outdoor activities or for avid travelers. The transformable backpack’s ease of use (light shade) and energy-efficient design (solar cell to charge battery) make it both functional and fun.
The FireFly is a small backpack that has an integrated lantern powered by a solar cell embedded on the backpack exterior. The solar cell charges a battery that is connected to a single LED illuminating a folding “light shade” which diffuses the light like a lantern. The shade falls open and is closed with a plastic clip. A single solar charge of the battery provides 6-8 hours of light.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
I wanted to design a backpack that transformed into another product. I began by looking at camping equipment. Having gone camping many times, I began to brainstorm issues I’d come across, one of which was forgetting a lantern or depleting a lantern’s batteries. Solar energy has always intrigued me and implementing a renewable power source like a solar cell in the backpack could transform it into a lantern. The FireFly backpack is the resulting product.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The prompt of designing a backpack that transforms into another product inspired me to design a backpack that was both uniquely functional yet versatile. The FireFly looks like a normal backpack, but it turns into a camping lantern. It can also be adapted for personal safety and illumination at night for pedestrians and cyclists.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
I began with a market analysis at high, mid, and low price tiers, looking at backpacks currently on the market. Additionally I looked at specialty camping products and existing solar powered backpacks, all of which focus on charging electronic devices or, in one case, illuminating the interior of the backpack. Results indicated that a high-end backpack with lighting capability would have a place in the camping market. I was greatly inspired by the LuminAID light, an inflatable solar powered light for natural disaster situations and the developing world. For my prototype, I used LuminAID’s existing technology, a 2”x5” single solar cell, battery and LED to have my prototype function as it would if it were produced. I began prototyping the FireFly pack by making a paper model. I cut this up to make a working pattern. After making two working prototypes out of muslin, I finalized the pattern. To make a durable backpack, I looked into industrial grade materials. The outer shell of the backpack is made from Coated 1000 Denier Cordura. The interior lining is a waterproof ripstop nylon. The expanding and contracting shade for the lantern is made from an ultrathin waterproof translucent ripstop nylon. Inside the shade compartment there is a patch of Scotchlite so the light is reflected throughout the entire shade. The LED produces enough light to read by and illuminate a small tent. Line extensions for markets other than camping include a red ripstop nylon for the shade and a LED strobe for biking at night. Additionally the expanding and contracting illuminating shade could be applied to clothes or accessories for personal safety for construction workers, hunters, runners, and pedestrians. I have submitted a professional patent application for the FireFly backpack to the USPTO.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The FireFly uses solar power in a very practical way. Lanterns are traditionally made from hard materials that are clunky and heavy, using disposable batteries or liquid fuel that are bad for the environment. A soft lantern integrated into a backpack is more environmentally friendly, lighter in weight, and always with the user.