German company Fraunhofer FEP is leading Smart2Go, a new collaborative project that will involve the development of a flexible power supply for wearable devices under the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. The company anticipates the creation of an ‘autonomous energy-supply platform’ intended to power the growing number of wearable technologies in development, including medical gadgets and trackers.
Though the market is packed with smartwatch and fitness bands, the wearables industry as a whole is only getting started. A large issue currently limiting the development of new wearable innovations revolves around mobile power supplies, namely a problem without an adequate solution: how do companies provide wearable devices with substantial power, but without adding large unsightly battery packs?
The Smart2Go project will work on coming up with a solution, one that will include both a “powerful” battery and also an energy-harvesting system. The company didn’t offer details about the energy harvesting system it may use, saying only that it is ‘appropriate,’ which likely refers to the nature of wearable devices. Potential systems may include converting body heat into power or utilizing motion from the wearer’s movements.
The energy harvesting aspect of this platform would represent the ‘autonomous’ part of the goal, meaning users wouldn’t have to worry about plugging the device in to a charger or connecting it to a wall outlet. An example would be something like sensors built into a device that never need to be connected to a charger because they utilize energy harvested from the wearer’s movements.
Fraunhofer FEP explained that the platform will be modular in order for manufacturers to adapt it to their own products and needs. Though details aren’t provided, the company says the system’s energy harvesting feature “can be changed as well,” but it’s unclear whether that refers to different energy-harvesting tiers or something else.
The project is being funded by the EU Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020; it features eight EU innovation partners and the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Center. Smart2Go officially launched in January and will run for 36 months.