What do the new Apple Watch, a blood glucose meter, a smartphone and a tablet computer have in common? They’re all rigid quadrilateral polyhedrons: rectangles that don’t bend. Screens can be flexible. Printed flexible circuit boards are out there. So why are all our personal electronics rigid rectangles?
The answer is the size and shape of the battery that powers them. In some devices, like your smartphone, the battery can take up more than half of the total size and you’ll still find yourself recharging it every night. What if batteries were flexible? What could a smartwatch do if it were liberated from its battery? What would it look like? The Advanced Energy Storage team at CSIRO has invented a flexible battery, and it got them dreaming about the future of wearable electronics.
What if our flexible battery could recharge itself? What if we didn’t need any wires to connect devices to it? Could we make personal electronics that are truly wearable? Could we make a seamless heart rate monitor that’s part of running clothes, or a smartphone that wraps around your wrist, a dress that sparkles with lights like it’s been embroidered with thousands of little diamonds, a back pack that powers a GPS and other equipment for hikers or cross country skiers, or a small bag that powers medical devices? … (read more)