Charging always presents its own set of challenges in the development of a new device. The charging needs to be universal, and as devices get slimmer and/or smaller, chargers need to be adapted or changed to fit within that smaller space. Scientists have now created a charger that will work off your body heat.
Body Heat Charger
The challenges presented with chargers are no more evident than in wearables. No one wants to wear something large and clunky.
The charging challenge with earbuds was solved by putting them in a case that would charge them. Smartwatches sometimes use wireless charging, alleviating the need for a charging port.
The next issue is battery life. We need our wearable batteries to last at least throughout a whole day. No one wants to be listening to their music or be working out and have their smartwatch or earbuds die out.
University of Colorado at Boulder researchers cleared those hurdles. They set a goal to create a wearable that could generate power on its own.
The researchers accomplished their goal. Their wearable is, in essence, a body heat charger. It takes the wearer’s body heat and converts it into electricity. It could be in the form of a bracelet or even as small as a ring.
The Future of Charging Technology
What does this body heat charger mean for the future? Will all wearables utilize this technology? Will we never have to charge our wearables again?
“In the future, we want to be able to power your wearable electronics without having to include a battery,” explained Jianliang Xiao, senior author of the paper published in Science Advances, in a statement. “Whenever you use a battery, you’re depleting that battery and will, eventually, need to replace it. The nice thing about our thermoelectric device is that you can wear it, and it provides you with constant power.”
Imagine having infinite power in your wearable. And imagine how small wearables could become if there would be no need to leave room for a battery. Would we be able to fast-charge other devices just by holding or touching them?
Being pragmatic about it, we need to realize that our body heat isn’t going to provide enough power to charge a laptop, and it may only be enough for the wearable itself. It can generate about 1 volt of electricity for each centimeter of skin, so that’s not going to go very far.
What’s important, though, isn’t the discovery – what’s important is that it was discovered,\that it was developed. Batteries don’t last long enough, need to be recharged, take up too much space, and are terrible for our environment. What these researchers showed is that there are other, better solutions. They provided possibility.
Want to learn more about the trends in wearables? Read on to learn about the role of Valencell’s PPG sensors in wearables and hearables.
Image Credit: Wearable body heat charger technology and public domain