Introducing the battery you can bend

Japanese paper folding inspires development of flexible battery that could transform the wearable technology industry.

The emergence of wearable technology and devices such as smartwatches and fitness bands has brought with it a need for a new type of battery, one that is flexible – and that’s exactly what researchers in the US have developed.

A team at Arizona State University turned to origami as inspiration for the design of a new lithium-ion battery, specifically a variation called kirigami, where the paper is cut as well as being folded.

Using kirigami techniques allowed the team to develop a flexible lithium-ion battery that could be stretched to 150% of its original size, without losing capability.

The team used the battery to successfully power a Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch, by sewing it into the elastic armband connected to the timepiece.

Even when the test subject flexes his arm, the watch still works.

Stretchable batteries could be sewn into fabrics – even clothing.

Hanqing Jiang, associate professor at the university, believes the battery’s versatility could change the design of wearable devices. “This type of battery could potentially be used to replace the bulky and rigid batteries that are limiting the development of compact wearable electronic device.”

The team says the battery can easily be mass produced, paving the way for more intelligent, technical clothing.

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