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iBag! DUMBO company sells solar-powered backpacks

The Brooklyn Paper

Brooklyn’s hottest new carrying case is one powerful piece of apparel.

Bolstered by DUMBO’s new wireless Internet service and the city’s plan to install Wi-Fi in Northern Brooklyn parks, a DUMBO-based design group on Thursday started selling solar-powered shoulder bags that can charge iPads.

The Spark, made by Voltaic Systems on Water Street near Bridge Street, is equipped with USB ports and lined with solar panels that can run your Apple tablet while you nosh on a Bark hot dog in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Spark takes 10 hours to fully charge the iPad, but you can still surf the net while your device is powering up.

“People in Brooklyn are always out and about, but they want to be wired all the time,” said Voltaic co-founder Jeff Crystal. “The Spark lets them stay connected without having to stay home.”

But you don’t need to bask in the sun to stay connected. The bag, which can also be carried like a briefcase, has a battery pack that charges gadgets on cloudy days. And the Spark is waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about getting shocked if a last-minute thunderstorm hits.

The black bag, which weighs about two-and-a-half pounds and is just large enough to snugly fit an iPad, can also charge phones, digital cameras, Nintendo DS and less trendy tablets like the Galaxy Tab.

Local techies touted the sizzling bag as the icing on Brooklyn’s thick Wi-Fi cake.

“We wanted the new Wi-Fi network in DUMBO to inspire innovation and creative thinking, and the Spark is doing just that,” said Tucker Reed of Two Trees Management Company, which set up Wi-Fi antennas on many DUMBO buildings.

The Spark isn’t the only Apple device-charging gadget to come out of Brooklyn this month. Downtown-based designer Andrew Schneider invented a sun-powered bikini that can charge iPods and is currently planning beer-cooling bathing trunks for dudes called the iDrink.

Schneider couldn’t be reached for a comment on his competition, but Crystal says that the Solar Bikini is more friend than foe.

“It’s great that Brooklyn has so many people who delight in creating new technology,” Crystal said. “Innovation is contagious.”

Expensive products are also contagious, though the $299 Spark is a bargain when compared with the $1,000 Solar Bikini.

Voltaic was founded in 2004 and has made other solar-powered products, including an iPod-charging backpack that was released in 2005.

The sun-powered bag can be ordered online at www.voltaicsystems.com.

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