Scientists and businesses are developing ways to use the human body as a battery to power small gadgets, revolutionizing things like cellphones and lifesaving medical devices, The Verge reports.
Companies like Matrix Industries — scheduled to come out with the first ever watch powered by body heat in September — see commercial opportunities in tapping into the body’s battery potential.
Most researchers, however, are pursing the technology for the implications it could have on medical technology, specifically devices that are implanted in people, according to The Verge.
“If the device relies on batteries, replacing the battery needs surgery, so providing operations for medical devices is a huge advantage and can really affect people’s lives,” University of Southern California electrical engineering professor Dina El-Damak told The Verge.
Although several methods for tapping into the human body’s electrical energy exist, thermoelectric generation is the nearest to being commercialized, like in Matrix Industries’ watch.
Thermoelectric generation uses the difference in temperature between two points to influence the flow of electrons. Scientists at NASA have been taking advantage of thermoelectric generation to power space equipment for decades, but without using people as a source of heat.
Matrix Industries is taking advantage of the slightly higher temperature people’s skin typically has over the air around it to power its watch, calling it the “world’s first smartwatch you never have to recharge.”
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