A Clearer View of Wearable Power

Hands setting smart watch with application icons on screen.

A recently published paper from the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) at the University of Surrey details a new methodology that could help design engineers as they develop ‘smart’ wearables. The approach offers insight into the power generation capabilities of products once they are manufactured and put to use.

The technology is centered on materials that become electrically charged after coming into contact with each other. Known as triboelectric materials for triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs), they use this contact, which can take the form of a static charge, to harvest energy from movement through a process called electrostatic induction.

Over the years, a variety of TENGs have been designed that can convert almost any type of movement into electricity. The new tool gives manufacturers a better idea of power output in order to tailor the application accordingly.

According to the analyst firm CCS Insight, the wearables market could reach a net worth of $25 billion by next year. Although this contains a number of products including smartwatches, fitness trackers and wearable cameras with dedicated power supplies, the next step will be improving the reliability of these devices by eliminating the need for batteries or plugs.

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