Word on the street is that Wired’s Nextfest showcased a bunch of note-worthy projects, such as this Portable Light by University of Michigan and Kennedy & Violich Architecture.

The PortableLight is a series of prototypes that integrate flexible solar cells and super bright LEDs into lighting solutions for the billions of people in developing countries who do not have access to electric power or light. Although designed specifically for the “developing world” these designs will likely be useful in the first world as well, where there is a growing need to come up with energy efficient alternatives to the centralized and costly electrical grid.

The high brightness LEDs (hBLEDs) incorporated into the Portable Light are bright enough to read, work and illuminate area at night. The long term goal is to integrate the technology directly into textiles. For the time being, however, the Portable Light project has done a fabulous job of incorporating off-the-shelf components into functional designs.

According to the project’s website, these Mexican Huichol villagers from the Sierra Madre were some of the first to beta-test these portable lights. They’ve since become big fans. There is no electricity in the mountainous area in which they live, but the portable lights have allowed them to work later into the evening and become less reliant on daylight. To learn more about the project, peruse the website (be patient, because the user interface isn’t exactly intuitive).

Via We-Make-Money-Not-Art via Personal Debris