Wearables Of The Future Could Be Powered By Your Own Body Heat

Researchers believe they’ve developed a new way to power wearable technology - harvesting body heat for electricity.

The team at NC State has developed a patch that’s roughly a centimetre squared, which attaches to a person’s bicep and can generate up to 20 Microwatts.

While that’s not enough to power a smartwatch, you can fuel a medical sensor with it. That’ll reduce the number of cables that a patient has to walk around with.

How does it work?

This patch creates electricity using the differences in temperature between your body and the air around it.

Your body heat is pushed through a wearable thermoelectric generator within the hardware, which is just 2 millimetres thick.

And it doesn’t just work on the bicep - the team have developed a version that’s integrated into a t-shirt. While the wattage is not as high as the bicep version, it’s probably preferable to an arm sticker.

Study co-lead Haywood  Hunter,  shows off the TEG-embedded T-shirt at work.

Study co-lead Haywood Hunter, shows off the TEG-embedded T-shirt at work.

So this isn’t for consumer wearables yet, but the future does look bright.

At the moment, this is perfect for powering long-term health devices. But the biggest component so far is the battery connected to it.

The moment the power can be generated locally and sent straight to the device, then you can say hello to instantaneous juice from your body heat.

That will certainly sort out the Apple Watch battery complaints.