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Minnesota startup develops solar-powered device charger

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A Minnesota startup company has come up with a way to easily keep mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and cameras charged up, even when you're away from a power source, the Business Journal reports.

The product is called a Sun Strap. It's a small, flexible solar panel with a rechargeable battery that can be attached to the strap of a backpack or shoulder bag, or even the frame of a bicycle. It has a USB charger to attach it to a device for charging.

The Sun Strap was developed by the Skajaquoda Group, which is based in Clarkfield, Minnesota -- a small town about 140 miles west of Minneapolis.

“When we looked at other solar products we found most of them to be unattractive or inconvenient to carry around, or spent most of their time inside a bag away from the sun," the company's vice president Agust Agustsson said in a news release. "We wanted to design something that is always exposed to the sun, charges automatically as you go about your day and is appealing and more comfortable than what currently exists."

Agustsson and his brother, CEO Einar Agustsson, moved to the U.S. from their native Iceland several years ago when Iceland"s economy collapsed.

They launched Skajaquoda in Delaware in 2010, and relocated to Minnesota last year, in part because of the state's favorable R & D environment, Einar Agustsson told the Redwood Falls Gazette.

They ended up in Clarkfield when they purchased an old school building in town, known as the H.A. Hagg building, for $70,000 on eBay to use as their production facility, according to the Gazette.

Skajaquoda "seeks to be a global leader in socially responsible sustainable investments and projects," according to the company website.

The brothers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for development of the Sun Strap. They're almost halfway to their $15,000 fundraising goal -- the deadline is Sept. 9. Contributors who pledge at least $49 will get one of the devices. They hope to deliver the products in December, according to the Business Journal.

Skajaquoda is also developing a portable wind-powered generator called the Trinity, and it raised more than $75,000 on Kickstarter for that project. The Trinity is expected to be ready for delivery in January, the company says.

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