We absorb the heat from your body, and that heat is funneled through a thermoelectric generator that converts it into electric power.
Never run out of batteries again. With this new tech called TEGWear, your body is the battery.
It’s no science-fiction fantasy. With wearable gadgets like Google’s Project Glass on the horizon, all that’s missing is an ultraportable power source that never needs recharging–like, say, your own body heat. A startup in Corvallis, Oregon, has developed a small chip that can turn body heat into electric energy, using the same technology found in solar panels. “We absorb the heat from your body, and that heat is funneled through a thermoelectric generator that converts it into electric power,” says Perpetua Power Vice President Jerry Wiant. The result: a single, square-inch TEGwear chip generates enough power (up to 3
watts volts) to power anything from the accelerometer in your pedometer to the wireless headset for your smartphone.
The physics behind TEGwear is basic: Your body is always generating heat, even when you are asleep. And heat, regardless of the source, excites electrons. The flow of electrons, in turn, generates electricity. The tricky part is harnessing enough electricity to power a small device. Wiant says TEGwear will do just that, as long as the chip is either touching your skin or separated from it by only a thin layer of clothing.
Originally developed using technology licensed from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (a Department of Energy research lab in Richland, Washington), TEGwear-powered devices are still in development and won’t hit the market until 2014. But this ultimate clean tech has a whole host of potential applications, from mobile health to national security.
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