Batteries are a weakness of the mobile industry. Increasingly powerful, mobile devices require smart solutions to take better advantage of battery power and also recharge faster the power repository of a tablet or smartphone.
Thus, many researchers have sought alternatives to the traditional ways of powering a device. One of the bets is the use of mechanisms capable of collecting energy from the human body, thus dispensing with the use of conventional batteries.
This innovation would be of even greater use in the healthcare industry. If you imagine a device that needs battery power to continue working – like a brain or heart implant – having to remove it to “change the battery” may be something laborious and risky.
“If a device relies on batteries, replacing them would require surgery, then providing medical device resources is a significant advantage and can really affect people’s lives,” argues the professor at the University of Southern California in the United States, Dina El-Damak.
From the heat
The most obvious method when talking about this is to get energy from the movement, but many scientists do not bet on this mode for a reason also quite evident: not all devices can afford to function only when the carrier is in motion.
One option considered by some researchers is the piezoelectric method, which generates energy from the pressure applied to certain materials.
However, the favorite of scientists is the energy generated from the heat of the human body, something that we never fail to produce while alive. This method is called thermoelectric generation.
An example of this comes from the University of North Carolina, also in the US, where Professor Daryoosh Vashaee created a device capable of capturing the temperature difference a human body and the external environment to transform into electricity.
The big problem of this modality is the amount of energy obtained by the device, always very low and unable to charge a cell phone. Thus, the method can be applied only to objects that are highly energy-efficient, and they consume very little energy.
There are also initiatives that study energy creation from material friction – triboelectric generation – as the small generator set up by Georgia Institute of Technology professor Zhong Lin Wang. In this method, the researchers developed a wearable device capable of obtaining energy from the movement and friction between objects.
Although any material causes friction, the right choice can result in an even more efficient method than the thermoelectric generation, says Wang. This type of technology could be implemented in technological clothing, but also in body sensors, greatly expanding its possibilities.
Unfortunately, though, it’s hard to imagine that such a novelty will be available in the short term – Wang believes it takes at least three years before his frictional energy generation system hits the market.
Until then, the great example of this branch is the Matrix PowerWatch, a watch that uses thermoelectric generation to function and was created from a collective financing project.