The Electree+, A Solar-Powered, Induction Charging Bonsai Tree Hits Kickstarter

Induction charging seems ready for its time in the spotlight, with the Nexus 4, Droid DNA and Lumia 920 all shipping with wireless charging based on the Qi standard built-in. Now a concept design that offers solar-powered wireless charging cleverly hidden inside a futuristic looking bonsai tree hopes to become a reality with the help of Kickstarter.

The electree+ began life as a concept by French designer Vivien Muller, which he originally unveiled in 2008. Then, three years later, Muller tried to bring the device to market, kicking off pre-orders for the device beginning at $370. She was aiming for 400 pre-sales, but the device eventually shipped to just a small group of 200 pre-order customers.

Now, the electree+ has been redesigned to maximize its solar efficiency, and to be manufactured in the USA at much larger volume, and for less money. The redesigned electree+ boasts a 14,000mAh internal battery, which when fully charged can fill an iPhone 5 up to and over nine times. It features 27 solar panels at the tips of branches, which are adjustable to capture maximum light. It requires 36 hours in sunlight to build up a full charge, but it also only needs around 4 hours to build up enough juice to fully recharge your standard smartphone.

Other features, like an optional built-in- NFC chip, mean that it can trigger an action when a smartphone is placed on its surface, in order to put it into dock mood or manage smart home connected devices, like light fixtures and curtains. It also has changeable faceplates, if you’re feeling bored by a particular color. Plus, the electree+ is environmentally friendly, since it’s just sipping sunlight to deliver charges to your devices.

The electree+ has two USB ports, including one designed for devices with lower power requirements like smartphones, and one for tablets which feature faster charging powers. As mentioned, because it uses Qi, it’ll work out of the box with the Nexus 4 and other smartphones with Qi inductive charging coils built-in, but it should also work with iPhones so long as they have a wireless charging case.

Pre-orders begin at $199, depending on what kind of options you want, and the team behind the redesigned electree+ wants to hit at least 1,000 pre-sales, or a total funding amount of $200,000 in order to go to production. It’s an ambitious project, but unlike with a lot of products on Kickstarter, this is one that’s actually been made and shipped, so hopefully the team stands a better chance than most of hitting their May 2013 target ship date.