Mini Solar Bonsai Tree Powers Your Gadgets (No Watering Required)

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While not exactly embarking on a grand plan to steal Mother Nature’s secret of photosynthesis (like those crazy Chinese guys we talked about yesterday who Shanghaied the leaf), French designer Vivien Muller is also looking at leaves of green for energy-generating design inspiration.

Muller’s Electree is an indoor “sculpture imitating a bonsai,” its leaves being 54 mini photovoltaic panels. The device/artwork stores solar energy in a battery hidden in the sculpture’s base which feeds a USB port where you can recharge your cellphones, cameras, iWhatevers and other devices.

While its initial release is a limited edition of 20 “specimens” (gotta love the French), Designboom reports a “small family-run company” now produces the product and is hoping to manufacture Electree in a bigger series and at a lower price point than its out-of-the-gate $6,000-plus.

Electree comes in magnetized modules than can be assembled pretty much any which way so you can produce “une infinité de forme différentes.” (Yes, please.) This also means you can aim your mini solar pick-ups right at the Sun to increase the device’s effectiveness.

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Muller also sees major growth opportunity for Electree and posits the development of what it calls the Electree City, an even larger plant - really tree-sized this time - whose leaves are solar panels. A solar-paneled shade tree. Hmmm. Maybe one’s coming soon to a park near you. “Nature has selected for a million years the most effective structures to capture energy from the sun,” says the designer. “That is why the sculpture was inspired by the plant.”

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