Skin embracing wearable that generates electricity by muscle movement
Wearables that are self-powered and make use of natural sources of energy are in demand, and for obvious reasons. Current age wearables require power sources that are lighter, thinner and flexible enough to fit inside the complex form-factor of wearable devices. Keeping that in mind, the National University of Singapore has developed a wearable device that is powered by muscle movement, and measures just the equivalent of a postage-stamp. It is capable of generating 90 volts of voltage just by gentle touch of a finger.
This friction-powered generator converts mechanical energy into electric energy and is perfect for thin wearables that are power hungry. The thin and flexible material works on the principle of triboelectric effect which produces electric charge whenever two dissimilar surfaces are rubbed against each other. Even pulling apart or flexing produces current that can be collected using an electrode.
The wearable device was shown at the IEEE MEMS 2015 conference and researchers quite rightly have made use of skin as the base surface for this wearable. Not only does the skin become positively charged which is good for such triboelectric materials, but is also the most contacted organ of human body.
The current prototype version has been tested by attaching to forearm or throat. This produced electricity while speaking or moving of arms, while the tapping of device produced a high voltage of 90V and power of 0,8mW which is enough to light up 12 LEDs.