Andrea de Chirico, the Plymouth, U.K.-based designer of a new solar lantern concept called “Moblant: the community lantern” says that the lantern is inspired by the past – when community events were focused around a shared light source. Today this usually means camping, music festivals or other outdoor social events. But the Moblant is different than your typical solar-powered camping gear. With a balance of style and function, Moblant is a portable solar lantern that is all about sharing.
With a sleek cone-shaped design, the lantern is powered by a solar cell on its top, but it can also be charged with an electrical cable. The lamp comes with two light settings – an LED at the top of the lantern and a second LED at the base that can be set to change colors. A wooden handle allows the Moblant to be easily transported, and stays true to the “ecological soul” of the lantern.
Other portable community lanterns with color-changing LEDs have been developed (i.w. the “bump lantern” by Mathmos). But what make the Moblant unique are its charge management capabilities. The idea is that one person can share her light by transferring power from her lantern to a friend’s. (This only works if your friends also have Moblants.)
It’s easy: To check the power level of a lantern, you simply place it next to another lantern. The lanterns will glow green, and the intensity of the light will show the level of charge left in each lantern’s batteries. If one of the lanterns has a low battery level, it can be charged by simply touching the bases of the two lanterns together. The lantern with the higher battery level will transfer energy to the other one through induction. For this purpose, the lantern has been designed without any grip or rubber nonslip material on its base.
There are a ton of solar lanterns out there and each different model we come across seems to have a specific intended use. Some are designed for personal use; some are decorative; others are more functional. There’s even one that grows a plant. The Moblant seems to be a nice blend of style and function. It is attractive enough to be used as landscape or decorative light, but functional enough that you might actually take it camping with you. As de Chirico suggests, you could also use it as a “greeting lantern” to take to a friend’s house when you are having an outdoor meal.