Beach mat charges phones and keeps drinks cool

A Lebanese university student has designed a new eco-friendly mat to help beach-goers charge their phone and keep their beverages chilled while sunbathing.

With a five watt solar panel and a built-in thermal fridge, 23-year-old Antoine Sayah has designed ‘Beachill’, a waterproof fabric mat that can recharge electronic devices and keep drinks cold.

Sold for $150 USD, ‘Beachill’ is lightweight and easily carried, coming with an internal pocket for a book or other small belongings.

During his university project Sayah’s initial intention was to find ways to tackle some of the issues that bothered him while on the beach.

“It all started as a university project when we were asked to design something that is eco-friendly and, at the same time, can be used in our daily lives. Every student designed something. I designed something that could solve the problems I face when I go to the beach: my phone runs out of battery, water warms up in bottles, I can’t relax because mattresses cause back pain and at the same time, I don’t like to use someone else’s mattresses, I like to have my own thing which I can wash and use like a towel. And that’s when I thought why not invent a product that has all these things together and that works on solar power and can help the environment,” Sayah told Reuters from his garden in Adma, north of Beirut.

After advertising his product on social media, Sayah sold 60 in just two weeks and has received interest from across the world.

“When I started developing the project, I thought only people in Lebanon will see it and that will be it. Then I was surprised by the high demand coming from all around the world; I got phone calls from Brazil, Toronto, all Europe, especially France, America, from all continents, Africa and even from Congo. I wasn’t expecting this. I was so happy to know it was something bigger than just an Instagram post. On the contrary, it is now a product that is in high demand with people asking for it from around the world, and I am now trying to develop the production so I can serve everyone,” he added.

Sayah, who has a degree in product design from Italy, is currently studying architecture at Lebanon’s University Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK) where he presented his invention.

One of those who have bought the product is Rita Mathieu from Lebanon.

While sunbathing on Beachill from her chalet in Tabarja, Mathieu explained why she finds the product useful.

“While sunbathing, I can recharge my phone without using electricity and I have a fridge where water stays cool. When I am on the beach, I used to always look around for a charger and never manage to find any, and the water never stays cool - so it is great and has everything in it, it even has a pocket where I can put a book and it takes no space at all. It also charges on solar power which is very good for the environment,” she said.

Sayah says he and his team can produce up to 10 Beachills a day, which is still not enough to meet the growing demand for the product.

While he looks for investors to expand his business, Sayah says his main obstacle for further improvement is the lack of government financial support.

Despite it being originally designed for beach needs, Sayah says his product can also be used in gardens, pools, boats, camping, and other outdoor spaces.