People Innovation Excellence

Skin-Based Generators Scavenge Muscle Motion to Power Wearables

Using human skin as one of its charge-collectors, a new flexible generator converts muscle movements into enough power for small electronics. The postage-stamp-sized device takes advantage of static electricity to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Such friction-powered generators could usher new types of wearable sensors that don’t require batteries but instead are powered by the wearer’s daily activities like walking, talking or holding an object.

The new device, which researchers from the National University of Singapore presented at the IEEE MEMS 2015 conference last week, can generate 90 volts of open circuit voltage when touched gently with a finger. Electrical and computer engineering professor Chengkuo Lee and his colleagues demonstrated that the new device can be used as a wearable self-powered sensor to track the user’s motion and activity.

Researchers have been trying for many years to make nanogenerators that scavenge body movements to power medical implants and other electronics. Georgia Tech investigators have used piezoelectric materials that generate electrical energy under mechanical stress. But in 2012 they reported a new kind of generator based on static electricity,…[Read more]


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