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The future of wearables involves using our body as a source of energy

Some startups have already started to develop prototypes of devices integrated into our bodies that are capable of feeding on our energy to be fully autonomous or even power wearables.

At present, wearables have undergone rapid development. Personalized devices have emerged, such as smartwatches, smart glasses or activity bracelets that were born to provide comfort as well as technology and great functionality to the human being.

To contextualize, the English term wearable could be literally translated as “wearable” or “wearable”, and refers to those technological devices that we carry with us regularly and with which we constantly interact.

Well, these have been developed at the same time as other innovations in fields such as flexible electronic technology , big data and artificial intelligence, which little by little have made it possible to add numerous improvements to wearables such as frequency monitoring. cardiac or IoT.

For them, power supply is a major hurdle and batteries are now the standard power source for electronic devices . However, the characteristics of these, the limited life of the batteries and the possible problems of environmental contamination are great handicaps that are currently trying to be overcome .

Therefore, many efforts have been made to explore new environmentally friendly and renewable energy sources to power electronic devices, and self-powered technology offers a solution for sustainable power supply of wearables.

Self-powered technology means the device can maintain its own operation by drawing energy from the environment without the need for an external power supply. Well, researchers have discovered that the human body itself can be a perfect source of energy for these.

The future of wearables is in our own body

Numerous companies have already been launched to investigate and develop, with a view to the future , ways in which our own body is in charge of charging these devices.

A German startup with the name CELTRO is already working on it. His approach is based on the idea of ​​taking advantage of the energy generated by our cells through a tiny autonomous pacemaker. This would be located in our heart and would work just like a regular pacemaker but feeding back on our own energy for recharging.

On the other hand, the startup BeFC is focusing on the production of bioenzymatic fuel cells. BeFC has invented miniature eco-friendly biofuel cells that are paper-based, ultra-thin and flexible.

The technology uses biocatalysts to convert natural substrates such as glucose and oxygen into electricity. Fuel cells can be powered by any fluid, such as environmental or biological fluids. In addition, BeFC fuel cells do not contain hazardous or environmentally polluting chemicals and do not disturb existing recycling processes.

This novelty could be applied to many electronic devices, from microprocessors to low-energy wireless communications.

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, have discovered that a solar panel placed under the skin produces up to 10% more electricity than one exposed to direct sunlight , enough to power a low-power sensor.

A couple of hours in the sun can power an implantable temperature sensor for 24 hours, and the researchers say the best place to place it is between the neck and shoulder.

On the other hand, PiezoSkin, another Italian startup in this case, has managed to design a thin electrical film for the skin that, while serving to help people with dysphagia (swallowing problems), is capable of extracting energy from movements.

Now they are raising the possibility of harnessing the energy of other body movements and vibrations to develop new sensors and wearable devices.

Finally, we have the idea of ​​the Swiss company Mithras. They argue that if, on average, the human body continuously radiates about 100 watts of thermal energy, this adds up to 3 kWh each day, enough energy to power an LCD TV for 24 hours.

Well, they want to make better use of this energy by converting heat into electricity through thermoelectric generators (TEG) , a thermoelectric sheet formed by a sequence of semiconductor elements connected with a conductive metal.

One side of the TEG would be in contact with the body and the other with the environment. The device converts the temperature difference between its two faces into electricity that can be stored in a battery and power any electrical sensor that works near the human body.

TEGs can produce emission-free electricity even when the temperature difference is as small as one degree. The generated heat could power devices in various fields, such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and smart clothing, as well as smart patches, biosensors, or implants.

With all this on the table, it should be noted that many of these companies are still in a phase of collecting investment to carry out their proposals, although others are already in the phase of developing a prototype that can finally be integrated to feed a wearable or any other device.

I am a professional writer and blogger. I’m researching and writing about innovation, Blockchain, technology, business, and the latest marketing trends.

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