How would you feel about a new piece of activewear that could actually charge your phone whilst you move?
Wearable electronics have recently become very popular, but most pieces still require access to a power source, making it inconvenient for use in the activewear market. This new fiber, created by nanotechnologist Zhong Lin Wang, has been in the making for 11 years, and potentially could be a material that would harvest energy from our living environment, for example through the movement of walking or running.
Wang and his team have been working on making the fiber light and flexible to use whilst exercising. The material has previously been made by stretching solar cells into long fibers that collect sunlight. From there, the creators added ‘triboelectric nanogenerators’, that create electricity from friction, and other elements that store the energy to be used, e.g. for charging mobile phones.
The designers are in the process of making prototypes for the product. It is currently just 35 square inches, and Wang suggests it is not yet as flexible as cotton. Although the creators understand the material needs to be much thinner to act as a sufficient product for production, Wang also suggested that adding this small prototype to clothing would still be able to generate enough electricity to potentially charge a phone.
Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go before this new smart tech material is on sale. The fiber needs to be much thinner to allow more flexibility for movement, particularly for activewear clothing. The durability of the material must also be improved so it can last longer. Wang is also continuing work on the overall performance of the material.
Keep an eye out for more updates on this smart material at www.digitaltrends.com – who knows we could all be charging our electronics on our morning jogs before long!