BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new wearable device that converts body heat into a biological battery that could be used to power other wearable devices.
Scientists placed a series of thin thermoelectric chips into a flexible base, connecting them with liquid metal wires.
The device, worn on the body, converts body heat into natural energy that can power wearable devices like a fitness tracker or a watch.
“This kind of device can, we hope, replace batteries in the future,” said Jianliang Xiao, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at CU.
He says the device can be worn as a ring or a 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 this device is unique because it is flexible, it can heal itself and it is recyclable.
“It’s fully recyclable. We hope we can help to resolve this big issue associated with natural waste,” Xiao said.
Researchers say the device can generate about one volt of energy for every square centimeter of skin space. That’s not as much as many existing batteries, but it’s enough to power many watches or fitness trackers.
Scientists say they are still about five years away from getting this device out into the marketplace.