This stretchable battery could power future wearable devices, smart clothes

Using a twist on the art of origami paper folding, a research team at Arizona State University has created batteries that would be ideal for watch bands and connected clothing.

A team of researchers at Arizona State University has created a battery that can stretch up to 150 percent, opening the door for embedded power packs in smartwatches, clothes and other devices.

The approach is based on kirigami -- a twist on origami, or paper folding -- that turns a solid battery into several smaller ones with various folds and cuts. The result? A battery that isn't a small brick, but instead can twist, bend and stretch while still providing full power.

In the video demo, the team shows off a small, flexible wristband that powers a Samsung smartwatch even when the band is twisted or moved.

Engadget, which spotted the video and research news, notes that the technology could be woven directly into fabrics.

That could be the "killer application" for such batteries although there's an obvious potential application in smartwatch bands. Wearable devices don't actually have to be devices.

I've already tested a shirt -- or biometric smartwear to be more precise -- that measures my real time heart rate and respiration, for example.

The conductive fibers to do so are woven in to the shirt but they need power to transmit the data over Bluetooth to a mobile app. Currently, that power is found with the Bluetooth radio in a blocky, plastic module. Adding in a stretchable battery would reduce much of the module's bulk and also provide flexibility for the garment to stretch.

While our biggest battery challenge is still the amount of power capacity we can store in a given space, ASU's effort shows that we can still make some tweaks that could radically change the form of a battery; even in smart clothes.

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