Menu
MIT wearable tech gives 'power walk' a whole new meaning

MIT wearable tech gives 'power walk' a whole new meaning

Charge up your fitness tracker with every step you take

Today's wearable devices are often used to track exercise and fitness, but what if those very actions served to power the devices as well? That could soon be possible thanks to new research from MIT.

Power has long been a limiting factor on wearables and other mobile devices, but MIT researchers announced this week that they have figured out a new way to turn small bending motions into energy.

Specifically, their technology uses two thin sheets of lithium alloys as electrodes, with a layer of porous polymer soaked with liquid electrolyte in between. When bent even just slightly, the layered composite produces a counteracting voltage and an electrical current in the external circuit between the two electrodes, which can be then used to power other devices.

Just a tiny weight attached to one end could cause the metal to bend as a result of ordinary movements, such as when strapped to an arm or leg, for example.

There have been other attempts to harness the power in small motions, but they've taken different approaches, the MIT researchers noted.

Specifically, most are based either on what's called the triboelectric effect -- essentially, friction, like when you rub a balloon against wool -- or piezoelectrics, using crystals that produce a small voltage when bent or compressed.

Such traditional approaches have "high electrical impedance and bending rigidity, and can be quite expensive,” said Ju Li, Battelle Energy Alliance Professor in Nuclear Science and Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering at MIT.

By using electrochemical principles instead, the new technology is capable of harvesting energy from a broader range of natural motions and activities, MIT said, including typical human-scale motions such as walking or exercising.

Not only could such devices likely be produced inexpensively at large scale, but they're also inherently flexible, making them more compatible with wearable technology and less likely to break under mechanical stress.

Indeed, test devices have proven highly stable, maintaining their performance after 1,500 cycles, Li said.

Other potential applications include biomedical devices or embedded stress sensors in roads, bridges or even keyboards, the researchers suggested.

Their work was described in an article published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments