May 1, 2014 -- Wearable technology like Fitbit is hot right now, but it could get a lot hotter in the next few years.
South Korean scientists have developed a tiny patch-like device that takes your body heat and turns it into electricity. So in a few years, it may be possible to kiss your chargers and batteries goodbye in favor of self-powered gadgets.
“We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted,” said lead researcher Byung Jin Cho, a professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
Other “thermoelectric” generators exist, but they’re not good at harnessing body heat because they’re not flexible or lightweight, Cho said. His team’s generator is made out of “glass fabric,” allowing it to move with the skin and absorb heat. A bracelet containing it would only weigh 10 grams, he said.
The device could be available in about two years, but Cho said he's not sure how much money it will cost consumers.
Cho and his colleagues also plan to demonstrate a self-powered electrocardiographic monitor within a year, he said.