Solar Suitcase

An award-winning, self-contained portable solar electric system that provides lighting for third-world medical clinics


Bringing light

Nonprofit We Care Solar — winner of numerous awards, including the United Nation’s first “Powering the Future We Want” grant — enlisted Swim to design a new interface for their Solar Suitcase. The product is a self-contained, portable solar electric system that provides lighting for third-world medical clinics, which would otherwise be completely dark at night.

Cross-cultural clarity

The project presented interesting challenges. The interface needed to communicate to users with little or no knowledge of English or how electricity works. To that end, Swim replaced the existing cryptic charge-controller UI with a custom-designed display that communicates through symbols and animation. We also designed the chassis graphics, buttons, and LEDs to provide clear feedback and promote best practices.


"Gitta and her team have been extremely professional throughout our project, and have been a pleasure to work with. They've gone above and beyond to understand the users' needs."


Validation with users around the globe

Even on a restricted budget, Swim found ways to gather valuable feedback from end users in far-off countries. Early mockups – and instruction and training on how to use them – were provided to We Care Solar personnel traveling to Nepal. Swim also gained beneficial feedback by conducting testing over Skype with medical personnel in several African countries and the Philippines.

To validate revised mockups, Swim capitalized on a local meeting of “Solar Ambassadors” (individuals well-versed in training people to use the Solar Suitcase in many different countries).

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