New approach uses human body to charge smartwatches and fitness bracelets


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Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences say they have developed a prototype charging system that uses the human body to charge smart wearable devices such as smart watches and fitness bracelets.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers are increasingly used to monitor vital health signs including heart rate, blood oxygen level, quality of sleep, etc. .

“Sleep quality and sleep patterns contain a lot of important information about the state of health of patients. The main reason people stop using portable devices for a long time is because they frequently need to recharge their battery. the device, ”noted Sunghoon Ivan Lee. , assistant professor at UMass Amherst.

The new technology uses human tissue as a means of transferring energy. The prototype charging system was tested with 10 people in three scenarios in which the individual’s arm or hand came into contact with the power transmitter. With the skin as the transfer medium, approximately 0.5 to 1 mW of direct current (DC) was transferred to the device worn on the wrist.

The researcher noted that the electricity complies with safety regulations set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and poses minimal health risks.

While the prototype charging system does not produce enough power to continuously run a sophisticated device such as an Apple Watch, it could support ultra-low-power fitness trackers like Fitbit Flex and Xiaomi Mi Bands. .

Now, the research team aims to improve the rate of power transfer in further studies. The work is published in the ACM Proceedings on Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Interactive Technologies.

“We imagine that in the future, by further optimizing the power consumed by portable sensors, we could reduce and ultimately eliminate charging time,” said Jeremy Gummeson, UMass Amherst wearable computer engineer.

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