Wearable technical textiles could soon be self-sustaining with the advent of a new flexible textile battery that can be recharged by solar power.
A research group at Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed the lightweight, foldable battery, which can be embedded into wearable electronic products and used as flexible energy storage to power smart clothing or accessories.
The battery, made up mostly of nickel-coated polyester yarn and polyurethane, generates energy using a folding and unfolding motion that simulates actual wearing conditions.
Trial versions of the wearable battery have hit the market in products like Google Glass and in Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart, where the battery is built into the watchband and uses solar cells to recharge the gear.
According to Nano Letters, a research journal for the nanoscience field in which the KAIST team reports its work, the new technology could cause a paradigm shift in consumer electronics as it eliminates the need for carrying separate charging devices. “In particular,” the journal noted, “integration of flexible electronic devices with clothes, glasses, watches, and skin will bring new opportunities beyond what can be imagined by current inflexible counterparts.”
The KAIST research team plans to incorporate the wearable battery into winter outdoor clothing, and says the new technology can be applied to current battery production lines without additional investment.