Low-power wearables may soon bid adieu to batteries and start drawing energy generated by body heat and movement, and ambient energy from the environment.
Consumer electronics devices are getting smaller but conventional batteries are not, and it’s important to start implementing new energy harvesting techniques to keep devices powered for long periods of time, researchers said at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California, on Sunday.
Energy harvested from body heat, motion, and ambient light could be used in medical implants, monitoring sensors and disposable medical patches, said Yogesh Ramadass, lead design engineer at Texas Instruments, during a presentation at the Hot Chips conference.
The technologies are still emerging, but the chip performance and energy efficiency of some wearables are reaching a point where it has started becoming “convenient for us to replace the battery and replace it with ambient energy,” Ramadass said.
Energy harvested from the body and environment is in the microwatt range, so it can’t be used for smartwatches or fitness trackers, which draw milliwatts of energy, Ramadass said.
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