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Earth & Energy

The Newest Wearable Uses Energy From Your Sweat to Power a Radio

The future is sweaty.

Perspiration Power

Sustainability is about more than large fields of solar panels and towering wind turbines. Technology is emerging that makes it possible to generate clean energy right from our very bodies. A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego have developed a patch that sticks directly to your skin and collects your sweat to provide power.

The device was able to generate enough energy to power a radio. A member of the team who developed the technology, Joseph Wang told New Scientist,“We’re now getting really impressive power levels. If you were out for a run, you would be able to power a mobile device.” You can read more about the science behind the technology in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

Image credit: Eric Sonstroem/Flickr
Image credit: Eric Sonstroem/Flickr

Personal Power Plant

While sweating to the oldies (that you’re playing off of a radio powered by the sweat you’re creating) is quite the feat, this is not the end goal for this technology. Mirella Di Lorenzo of the University of Bath says, “The most exciting application is wearable sensors that can monitor health conditions, then sweat could generate enough power for a Bluetooth connection so that the results could be read straight from a smartphone.” It’s the perfect marriage of personal and environmental health.

Other developing technologies are helping people to become their own personal power plant as well. Scientists at Purdue University are working on a specially designed fabric that can harness body heat to power devices. Other devices are bypassing the middleman of external power generators and directly using the body as a power source.

Each device we use may not be drawing intense amounts of power but with the rate at which we incorporate devices into every aspect of our lives, using our own bodies as a power source could relieve a small, but not insignificant, burden on overall power consumption. At the very least, these technologies could develop into something much greater in the near future.

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