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Solar beads can make some very cool lamps and flashlights

Here's what solar power may look like in the near future.
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Conventional solar panels aren't exactly the prettiest objects on the planet, which is why companies like Tesla, SRS Energy and SunTegra have been focusing on blending this technology into roof tiles. As for those who don't have a roof or land to spare, Japan's Kyosemi Corporation has come up with an alternative solution that can let windows and glass walls soak up solar power as well.

The magic ingredient? Just a web of "Sphelar" solar cell beads -- each with a diameter of 1.2 mm -- lined up inside any transparent substrate, meaning it can come in any shape or form while letting light travel through the gap between beads. Better yet, due to the spherical nature of these cells, they can capture light from almost any angle -- to the point where they can deliver a higher cumulative output than their conventional counterparts, according to the company.

Gallery: Sphelar Lantern and Sphelar Stick | 15 Photos

To showcase this technology, Kyosemi has taken two Sphelar-powered portable lighting products to Kickstarter: the water-resistant Sphelar Lantern and the Sphelar Stick flashlight. Both devices feature a clear acrylic base with a cylindrical web of Sphelars on the inside, which is both prettier and more effective than a tiny flat solar cell.

With its Sphelar side facing upward on a clear day, the Lantern takes four to six hours to be fully charged, then flip it around (hence its hourglass shape) to let it shine for about four hours; and if needed, there's also USB for faster charging. The aluminum Stick, on the other hand, requires more patience due to its much smaller volume -- we're talking about just 30 minutes of usage from a six- to eight-hour charge, but it does have the capacity to store up to four hours worth of juice; plus its brightness is rated at 34.20 lumens which is much higher than the Lantern's 5.72 lumens.

Admittedly, this cool-looking technology comes at a price. The Sphelar Stick already starts at $129 (available in silver, navy, green or copper; a wooden stand is included), whereas the Sphelar Lantern is asking for at least $349 (walnut or hard maple). There are really only two ways to talk yourselves into this: You either really dig these designs, or you genuinely want to support this forward-thinking company; or both. And at the end of the day, some people do spend even more money on designer products, anyway.

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