The future is ostensibly going to be filled with all sorts of cool gadgets, and they all need to be charged. One Oregon-based start-up called Perpetua Power believes that it may have a solution. The company has created a chip that can extract energy from the human body in order to power mobile devices - and it could be on the market as soon as 2014.
It's a neat idea. The body constantly produces heat, even when it is sleeping. Heat excites electrons, which generate electricity. The company has created the TEGwear chip which, if touching the body or if separated from the body only by a thin layer of clothes, can generate up to three volts of electricity. That would be enough to power mobile devices as diverse as a pedometer and even your smart phone.
"We absorb the heat from your body, and that heat is funneled through a thermoelectric generator that converts it into electric power," Perpetua Power Vice President Jerry Wiant explained to Fast Company.
The practical uses of this technology are abundant. Already, the company has received a grant from the National Science Foundation in order to create a wristband that would be able to track the location of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The company has also received funding from the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Division to create wearable surveillance devices. Perpetua Power has also partnered with other companies for a variety of applications, like the development of body-powered heart monitors.
The technology behind the device was developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is a Department of Energy laboratory in Washington. The company will show a demonstration of it at the Consumer Electronics Show this month in Las Vegas.
The chip turns the body into the ultimate clean energy source - meaning that it could potentially eliminate the waste generated by the metals in batteries tossed out every year.