Sure, you can get a set of rechargeables that power up via solar charger, but why not just cut out the middleman here? That seems to be the idea behind the Light Catcher Solar AA and AAA battery concept by Yung-Hsaing Chang, Ming-Shien Lin and Chang-Ting Lu (which comes to us via Yanko Design).
An entry in the 2011 iF (International Forum Design) Awards, the Light Catcher is, essentially, a simple photoelectric battery. In this design, a transparent casing coated with an anti-reflective layer protects the solar cells within. Just leave your batteries lounging in the sun to bring them up to full charge–and slip them into any electronic gizmo that can accept an AA or AAA battery. Viola, grid-free juice.
Alternately, either size of battery is also capable of powering devices via a 3.5mm jack, if you should have one, for some reason, that accepts this unconventional power format.
We’re loving some of the innovative new battery concepts we’ve been seeing in recent weeks, like this hand-cranked version from designers Yeon Kyeong Hwang and Mieong Ho Kang. In the future, ideally, we’d neither throw batteries away nor recharge them via clunky devices, but require them to gather juice themselves, off-grid, and deliver it directly to our portables.