If you are anything like us, we'd bet that there is no price too large to pay for a piece of cool clothing that could charge your phone. Take that and your secret surge pricing, Uber!
Thankfully, there are industrial designers already on it! Researchers at Brunel University in London, are apparently close to solving two major challenges that keep your shirt from charging your phone (and let's be real...changing your life forever).
The technology that could turn your shirts threads in supercapacitors into cloth already exists. The problem is amping up the voltage to charge your phone or tablet, without frying you in the process.
However, according to researchers Professors David Harrison and John Fyson, Dr Yanmeng Xu, Dr Fulian Qiu and Ruirong Zhang of Brunel’s Department of Design they have now patented a means for threads to store and supply enough power for common devices. Soon manufacturing said processes at an industrial scale, will be possible.
Explained Prof Harrison: “Supercapacitors are already ubiquitous as back-up power in phones, PCs and tablets.
“They store energy without a chemical reaction so can be charged and discharged almost indefinitely. But in thread form they have never before been able to break the 1V barrier. What we have done is show we can produce a multi-layered structure with two sequential capacitive layers capable of producing up to 2V. Breaking the 1V threshold is important as in the real world we work on the voltage of common batteries – 1.5V. We also wanted to address mass production issues so developed a process to semi-automatically coat stainless steel wire the thickness of a human hair with eight separate layers.”
If true, this is breakthrough work by these professors and could solve our charging needs forever. Of course, lot's of studies to measure the effects of electricity pulsing through our clothing will need to be done. But we have a feeling that chargeable shirts will soon be a part of major fashion brands collections.