What if your hand or wrist could charge your smartphone or connected watch tomorrow without external intervention? This is the crazy project by researchers at the University Center of Boulder in Colorado. They are trying to develop a wearable device that will turn our body into a generator of energy.
Thanks to this device, which could be thought to have come from the movie Matrix, the researchers would use body heat to charge a battery-powered device. No more disposable or rechargeable batteries, just your finger or wrist to make your device work. Amazing but still plausible in terms of their research.
How it works ?
This device, described in the journal Sciences Advances, is presented as a kind of futuristic ring or bracelet. It looks like a cross between a futuristic gem and a computer motherboard … The important thing is that it comes into contact with the skin.
Specifically, the device consists of thermoelectric generators that use the heat from the skin … So when you exert yourself, you release heat that is dissipated in the air … It is this unused heat that is recovered by the generator Supply the device with power. The device uses a base made of polyimine, a stretchable material. Then thin thermoelectric chips are glued to this base and connected to one another by liquid metal wires.
A portable thermoelectric device that is carried in a ring. Photo credit: Xiao Lab
“In the future, we would like to be able to power your portable electronic devices without batteries,” explains Jianliang Xiao, lead author of this study. According to the designers, these devices could generate around 1 volt per square centimeter. A voltage that is lower than charging batteries currently on the market, but sufficient for devices such as watches or attached bracelets.
Marketing within 10 years?
This project is not the first of its kind, but prior to this ring, the electronic skin had to be connected to an external source. It is therefore the first device that can only work with skin contact.
Scientists compare their innovation with the LEGO system … By combining several units, they can get a larger one and thus generate more energy. For example, a person jogging would generate 5 volts of electricity, more than enough to recharge the attached bracelet. However, there are still many tests to be carried out before it can be marketed. However, the developers hope to make it available within 5 to 10 years …