Flexible batteries open up wearable designs

October 04, 2018 // By Nick Flaherty
Researchers at Fraunhofer IZM in Germany have developed a prototype for a smart wristband with flexible batteries.

There is huge growth potential in the wearables sector, which is expected to reach a market value of €72bn by 2020.

The three segmented batteries in the wristband each have a capacity of 300 mAh and can store energy of 1.1Wh and lose less than three percent of their charging capacity per year. This is sufficient to power a conventional smart watch at no runtime loss. The prototype beats established products such as smart watches, in which the battery is only built into the watch casing and not in the strap.

“If you make a battery extremely pliable, it will have very poor energy density – so it’s much better to adopt a segmented approach,” said Robert Hahn, a researcher in Fraunhofer IZM’s department for RF & Smart Sensor Systems.

Instead of making the batteries extremely pliable at the cost of energy density and reliability, the institute turned its focus to designing very small and powerful batteries and optimised the mounting technology so that the batteries are pliable in between segments. This allows the smart band to be flexible while retaining a lot more power than other smart wristbands available on the market.

www.fraunhofer.de

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