This sweat-powered, stretchable battery could revolutionize wearables

bio battery flexible sweat stretchybiobattery
Whether it’s the AA batteries that go in TV remotes or the lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones, you probably have a pretty definite image that springs to mind when someone mentions “battery.” That could soon change, however, based on research coming out of the Binghamton University in New York, where scientists have developed a stretchy, textile-based, bacteria-powered bio-battery that could one day be used to power wearable devices. In demonstrations, the battery was shown to be able to exhibit stable electricity-generating capabilities even after repeated stretching and twisting cycles.

The breakthrough tech was developed by a team led by Professor Seokheun Choi. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Choi has previously been responsible for some innovative new battery technologies, such as a paper-like microbial fuel cell designed to produce electricity when activated by saliva. “All my previous experiences and technologies on paper-based bio-batteries have been leveraged to develop, for the first time, an entirely textile-based bio-battery,” Choi told Digital Trends. “The device generated a maximum power of 6.4µW/cm2 and current density of 52µA/cm2, which are similar to other flexible paper-based microbial fuel cells.”

If you’re wondering what “bacteria-powered” means in this context, the answer is that the battery could be powered by natural bodily secretions — most obviously our sweat. That would make it perfect for a lycra-type material that could be employed to make sports wear or other types of smart clothing. While it probably won’t be rivaling your iPhone in terms of sheer battery power anytime soon, it might open the way for wearables that would be able to gather sensor data from your body and then transmit it to a separate device. A T-shirt which could monitor our workouts or a pair of socks able to track our steps? Yes, please!

Choi said that the team is currently working to improve the power and current generation for practical applications. “But it will take more time for the commercial products,” he noted.

A paper describing the work, titled “Flexible and Stretchable Bio-batteries: Monolithic Integration of Membrane-Free Microbial Fuel Cells in a Single Textile Layer,” was recently published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.
Smart Home

New Nuimo Click gives one-touch control over smart home devices

Berlin-based technology company Senic has announced the Nuimo Click, a smart switch that harvests kinetic energy to power itself without the need for cables or batteries. The Nuimo Click will begin shipping in December.
Cars

Hold on to your butts: These are the fastest cars in the world

Think your car is unbelievably fast? Think again. From wind-cheating bodywork to powerful engines, these cars were designed for the singular pursuit of speed (and it shows).
Computing

Qualcomm’s ‘Snapdragon 1000’ could bring octa-cores to Windows laptops

The rumored Qualcomm Snapdragon 1000 CPU may bring the octa-core design of mobiles and tablets to Windows laptops, offering four powerful cores for high performance, and four low-power cores for efficiency.
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Emerging Tech

For only $4,950, you can get jetpack lessons from the world’s only instructor

Have you ever dreamed of flying using a jetpack? JetPack Aviation founder -- and the world's only qualified jetpack teacher -- David Mayman is now offering a day of flight instruction.
Emerging Tech

Biologists have found a hormone that could make space farming possible

Researchers have shown how space farming may be possible. By encouraging plants to excrete a certain hormone, they’ve demonstrated that crops can thrive despite challenging conditions, such as low-nutrient soil and microgravity.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

Banksy's recent auction stunt was meant to totally destroy one of his most famous pieces of work, but a fault with the shredder has left the buyer with something almost certainly worth far more than the $1 million she bid for it.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.