Surely, there have been many a time when you had to deal with a situation where you had no access to electricity and your mobile phone had gone dead. Naturally, the market offers power banks galore to save you from such emergencies, yet we often fail to remember to carry them with us. Besides, they are heavy, unwieldy, and also harmful to the environment.
The team led by professor Katarzyna Grabowska of the Faculty of Materials Technology and Textile Design #PŁ have found a solution which is bound to help us all avoid problems with a dead battery and, on top of that, encourage us to be more physically active.
I am talking about the textile charger. The textile charger operates based on hybrid woven or knitted fabric that is part of your clothing. It charges your mobile device as you move around. And all of that thanks to the thread made from hybrid yarn, with a ferromagnetic core for electromagnetic induction, which forms a closed electrical circuit. All you need to induce a flow of alternating current through it is a permanent magnet placed in another part of your clothing. During your physical activity, the two elements move relative to each other, which induces a flow of electric charge that powers a connected phone or tablet through the transducer.
The idea behind the solution emerged as a result of research on the structure and properties of decorative and hybrid threads. The researchers observed an analogy between the structure and electroconductive properties of fancy knop yarns and electric circuits made of serially connected solenoids coiled on a ferromagnetic core. The hybrid yarn is designed as two twisted component threads:
- the ferromagnetic core thread (carrier thread),
- the electroconductive thread.
The is how the charger works: alternating current is induced in the entwining electroconductive thread in an alternating electromagnetic field and the induced alternating current is transmitted to the receiver that is your device. The alternating electromagnetic field is generated by GSM base stations, WIFI access points, radio transmitters, and alternating electromagnetic field generated by the movement of permanent magnets. They can be mounted in e.g. cuff links of the shirt cuffs: as the person wearing the shirt moves their arms, the shirt cuffs fastened with the cuff links made of magnets move relative to the compact electrical circuit made of the electromagnetic induction thread woven or knitted into the woven or knitted fabric of the garment and the alternating electromagnetic field is generated. The alternating magnetic field induces alternating electric current in the electromagnetic induction thread that is then transmitted to the transducer for conversion as required by the powered mobile device.
How is this solution innovative?
The textile charger for powering mobile electronic devices is an integral part of the woven or knitted fabric from which, for example, clothes are made. It generates electricity in a continuous manner to power a mobile electronic device, such as a mobile phone, smartphone, tablet, and so on. The invention replaces heavy, bulky batteries and power banks that often contain toxic substances. It is shock and weather resistant. The primary purpose of the technology is to provide users with continuous access to power to enable them to continue using their mobile devices, which in turn should put an end to the troublesome chore of frequent charging of your phone or tablet.
And most importantly, the concept itself will prove effective not only in mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, but will also be used in cameras, camcorders, Bluetooth sets, physical activity monitors, industrial terminals and tablets, wireless bar code readers, battery heated clothing, detectors, and sensors. It will also protect you against electromagnetic fields. Further potential development opportunities for the invention have also been established to enable its application - after certain modifications - in sectors that have not been previously considered.
The invention has already been recognized at the innovation fairs where it has been presented: a gold medal at the Seoul International Invention Fair 2019 (SIIF), a gold medal as well as a special prize of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland at the International Warsaw Exhibition of Inventions (IWIS).
The inventions has been broadly reported by the media: