Researchers at CU Boulder have developed a new, low-cost wearable device that transforms the human body into a biological battery.
The device, described today in the journal Science Advances, is stretchy enough that you can wear it like a ring, a bracelet or any other accessory that touches your skin. It also taps into a person’s natural heat—employing thermoelectric generators to convert the body’s internal temperature into electricity.
“In the future, we want to be able to power your wearable electronics without having to include a battery,” said Jianliang Xiao, senior author of the new paper and an associate professor in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering at CU Boulder.
The device can be worn as a ring or bracelet. It can be incorporated into wearable electronics or connect to them. So there would be no need for a battery.
Many researchers are working in this field, but Xiao says his teams device is different because it is flexible, self healing, and fully recyclable.
Reportedly, the device generates about 1 volt of energy for every square centimeter of skin space. Not as much as existing batteries but enough to power many watches or fitness trackers.
“We’re trying to make our devices as cheap and reliable as possible, while also having as close to zero impact on the environment as possible,” Xiao said.
While there are still kinks to work out in the design, he thinks that his group’s devices could appear on the market in five to 10 years.