Electronic Wearables Could Be Charged By Human Motion


A simple device could charge your wearables as you move

According to MIT scientists electronic wearables could be charged by human motion.

Probably any Apple Watch user will complain about its battery life as it is very hard for a device which uses GPS and Wi-Fi along with a display not to suck the life out of its battery in only a few hours.

Researchers at MIT come to change that by developing a battery-like device which could transform human motion into energy which can be used to recharge your gadgets.

Professor Ju Li led a team of MIT researchers which have been able to develop a non-mechanical way to generate energy by bending two sheets made out of lithium alloy which are separated through a liquid electrolyte. In the moment when the sheets are bent – which could happen when a human walks – they generate electricity.

The device is not quite a battery since it is not capable to store the energy. All it does is converting motions into electricity that is output instantly. This is why the device would be perfect for wearables since they are attached to the body which produces the energy. For example an Apple Watch could be easily recharged with a device like this one incorporated into its band.

According to Li the device at this point is about 15 percent efficient but since the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to it, the device could reach 100 percent efficiency.

The system is very stable as it is able to maintain its properties as it is bent and unbent for thousands of times with a small performance reduction after 1,500 cycles.

Besides wearables the device could also be used for other cool techs as well. Efficient harvesting could help the development of more intelligent wearable devices and even of human-machine interfaces. Li says that this technology could be a huge development for flexible electronics, robotics, self-powered sensors and even artificial skin.

The same principle could be applied for sensors unrelated to the human body but in settings such as bridges, roads and other structures. It is a revolutionary discovery that will change the future of technology.

The research team includes postdoc Kejie Zhao, visiting graduate Giorgia Gobbi from MIT and Sulin Zhang and Hui Yang from Penn State. The study has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Samsung Scholarship Foundation, the MIT MADMEC Contest and Kwanjeong Educational Foundation.

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