A useful, fairly recent development in terms of smart phones are portable batteries, chargers, and other ways to keep our beloved technology alive throughout the day and night even when we’re far from outlets. However, electricity might be getting closer than you ever thought possible; a recent development may lead to a future innovation of clothes that could charge your phone (among other things).
What Piezoelectricity Is Doing for Your Pants
Called the “‘world’s smallest electric generator,’ scientists have found a way to translate kinetic energy into power using a material no thicker than a layer of atoms.” So, what does that mean in a practical sense? Well, as mentioned above, it could spell the beginning of carrying a power source with you, being a traveling expenditure of kinetic energy. In that case, such a variable material would be able to be supply electricity to not only cell phones, but also to important medical devices that are on hand.
Surprisingly, the science behind this technology has been understood for a while. “The development operates using the principle of piezoelectricity, or the production of energy from expanding or squeezing a substance.” The difference now is that this production of energy (the piezoelectricity) hasn’t been seen before in exactly this way, in so thin an area. Piezoelectricity has previously been used as a way to provide power based on foot traffic. From train stations to dance floors, various locations have tried to use these spaces to drum up kinetic energy based on the constant physical movement in these areas.
Of course, it won’t only be use for more convenient iPhone charging; piezoelectricity technology may be applied to robotics, as mentioned above, and health-related electronics:
“A shirt incorporating a heart rate monitor could sense changes in heart rhythm in elderly or cardiac-impaired patients – and summon emergency services if patient health is severely compromised by a change in heart rate.”
It could also, for example, “capture wind energy and use it to charge a personal computer, GPS or personal locator beacon” and could regularly monitor other physical functioning of any given person wearing the material, both of which are crucial safety measures. This development, if more fully integrated into the environment, can make a big difference in people’s lives.
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