Wearable Tech World Feature Article
February 27, 2013

Stretchable Batteries: The Next Big Thing in Wearable Technology

Researchers Yonggang Huang from Northwestern University and John Rogers from the University of Illinois – a former $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize recipient – are two people who really understand and exploit interesting characteristics of “soft' materials” for conformal electronics.

Once again, these innovators have joined forces to conduct materials research in the mechanics of “stretchable electronics.”

On Tuesday, February 26, these engineers introduced what could possibly be the next frontier for the consumer electronics business: a wearable technology that features a stretchable, flexible battery.

This battery is meant to be stretched, providing power to flexible electronic devices. The invention is as appealing as the peel-and-stick solar cells which are also flexible and can be attached to a variety of surfaces.

Instead of providing solar charging, however, the stretchable battery is capable of producing electricity.

The battery consists of wavy wires connecting components, capable of bending and moving in all directions. Just like a PC chip, it has a segmented design with silicone elastomers as substrates, and features an integrated wireless recharging system to supply current from a cordless power source.

This flexible lithium-ion battery, that can be stretched, folded and twisted, represents a breakthrough in consumer electronics. It is sure to be a hit in marketable wearable technology, featuring a stretchable battery that can easily be put into practice.

For now, however, the technology is geared toward the medical industry, and is to be used with medical applications – a stretchy heart monitor for example – with likely progression into the development of a bionic eye, in the near future, from the work these two researchers produced in 2008: an electronic eye camera, which is similar in size and shape to the human eye.

This device also features curved technology, but currently used to make studio-quality photographs.

There’s no telling what consumer electronics and wearable technologies are to come in the future as a result of these researchers’ work. One can only believe a stretchable battery has unlimited possibilities.

Edited by Braden Becker

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