BAGSOLATE wins with innovation in European contest

BAGSOLATE gewinnt mit Innovation bei europaweitem Contest  

– Interview with project manager Benjamin Naurath 

With our BAGSOLED concept we were able to convince at the European design contest Smart2Go. In this interview, our project manager Benjamin Naurath provides us with background information on Smart2Go and gives us exciting insights into the BAGSOLED project.

Benjamin, congratulations on winning the Smart2Go design contest! Please give us a brief introduction to the BAGSOLED project. 

Thanks! As the name suggests, we are developing a backpack with an integrated OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode). The goal of the project is a smart backpack that provides more safety in road traffic thanks to the luminous OLED – especially in the field of micromobility, for example for cyclists. For this purpose, we are integrating useful features such as a turn signal and taillight. In order to live up to our slogan “Style with function”, the focus is naturally also on design. It is precisely the eye-catching glow that makes the BAGSOLED an incomparable backpack with recognition value.

And how can you imagine the OLED technology on the backpack?

The OLED was developed specifically for use in textile applications and is provided by our research partner Fraunhofer FEP. To use the OLED, energy is needed, which also must be stored somewhere. If we integrate energy storage anyway, we would very much like to give the user a way to charge his cell phone as well. Quite specifically for the competition, we have integrated organic flexible photovoltaic modules for power supply so that we have an overall self-contained system of energy generation, storage and consumption. This is especially important because the lighting is needed primarily in low-light conditions, but the solar power is naturally generated when the sun is shining. So the project continues to evolve and become complex at some points. In addition, our design concept for the Smart2Go BAGSOLED is modular. The external components such as the OLED turn signals, OLED taillight and the photovoltaic modules can be easily attached or removed using snap fasteners. This is important to us not only from a design perspective and practicality, but also to enable possible repair, replacement and subsequent recycling without any problems.

All in all, users can look forward to…

…a smart backpack that gives them more freedom. No adventure or trip should be interrupted because of a lack of energy on the road. The tedious search for a power outlet should be a thing of the past. We don’t want to have to worry about such things in the future. This applies also to lighting in road traffic. Here, I would also like to no longer have to ask myself whether my standard lighting is enough or whether I am too easily overlooked, which can lead to dangerous situations. 

What exactly is the Smart2Go Design Contest about? 

The contest features creative and useful ideas for integrating an autonomous energy supply platform. The project is supported by the EU Horizon 2020 Fund. The autonomous energy flow is needed to control the described overall concept of energy supply, storage and consumption. It is the core of the technical ecosystem. Part of the Smart2Go design contest is also the associated consortium, which provides its innovative technical components. These include, for example, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft with its OLED technology, foil batteries from Varta, organic photovoltaic modules from ASCA, and precisely the Energy Supply Platform from VTT.

What was the process of the contest like?

The design contest was divided into two phases: First came the application phase, in which you presented your idea and the resulting project in a short application with a few drawings. A jury then selected the best three submissions from all the submissions, which were then fleshed out in the second phase. Here, we were assisted by a technical expert from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to better mature the overall concept and enable a realistic implementation. Finally, there was again a deadline to submit the improved application in much greater detail for the final. It was particularly important that our idea matched the required criteria and that our application illuminate these criteria.

What were the criteria?

One criterion was the special design and originality of the idea (“design uniqueness”). Further, the “market potential” was important, which aimed at the extent to which the design could be sold. Next to the “User experience”, the possible technical feasibility and performance (“Feasibility estimation”) had to be considered. Last but not least, the sustainability of the design and the final product was a decisive criterion.

In what aspects did the BAGSOLED project excel?

Our project is very well thought out and we have taken into account many important ideas and details. In addition, we were able to overcome challenges of smart textiles. So we have planned a concrete and meaningful product that can be implemented with the newly developed technology on the one hand and on the other hand offers a comprehensible added value for users and thus represents a promising business case. Through our daily business, we already have a lot of experience with sustainable textiles. We were also able to meet this criterion well through our concept of accessibility for repairs and replaceability or recycling – and of course through the selection of sustainable materials.

What was particularly challenging during the process?

Three things: first, understanding all the technical details and possibilities; second, designing a useful integration into the BAGSOLED; and third, the change of perspective. Especially when it comes to design, we always have to think from the user’s perspective. In other words, how will the product be used and what are the special requirements and needs? How do you make the technical functions accessible and easy to use? Which design is preferred? In the end, many innovative ideas evolved, such as the fact that the modules are removable and can be easily reattached via the snap fasteners.

What do you take away from the contest?

The nice thing is that the project is not over yet. At the end of June, we are invited to Oslo as the winning team to receive the prize and the award in person, but above all to learn more about smart textiles from international experts in a more in-depth workshop. Here we can establish many contacts that will be helpful for the implementation of the project. After all, we would also very much like to get the technical components physically to build a prototype of our BAGSOLED together with project partners.

Where do we go from here?

Das Schöne ist, dass das Projekt noch nicht vorbei ist. Ende Juni sind wir als Gewinnerteam nach Oslo eingeladen, um den Preis und die Auszeichnung persönlich entgegen zu nehmen, aber vor allem auch, um in einen tiefergehenden Workshop mehr über smarte Textilien von internationalen Expert*innen zu erfahren. Hier können wir viele Kontakte knüpfen, die hilfreich für die Umsetzung des Projekts werden. Schließlich möchten wir auch sehr gerne die technischen Komponenten physisch erhalten, um gemeinsam mit Projektpartnern einen Prototyp unseres BAGSOLEDs zu bauen. 

Is there anything else you would like to note?

At this point, I would like to say a special thank you to the BAGSOLATE team. As the project manager, I of course took care of the coordination of our application, but the actual result was the team performance of many. In my opinion, for example, the great drawings of Alex and Moritz were decisive for our victory in the Smart2Go Design Contest. Last but not least, a big thanks also goes to our partners, such as Jan from Fraunhofer FEP for the technical advice and helpful feedback on our project.

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