As tech innovation steams on, one area lags stubbornly behind: batteries.
However, while a battery that lets you run a smartphone or smartwatch for more than one day without charging seems some way off, there is new stuff going on in the power field. South Korean innovator Jenax has unveiled a new flexible battery concept at the Wearable Expo in Japan and it's impressive stuff.
Jenax's battery – dubbed J.Flex, which sounds like a middlingly successful hip-hop MC – can be scrunched up, twisted, flattened and rolled up, and perhaps even folded neatly into an origami swan. Jenax designed it specfically to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding wearables market for 2015 and beyond.
It's the lithium-ion battery we know and love, but the metal fibre technology within means that it can be reshaped around one million times in its lifecycle. What's more, Jenax CEO EJ Shin reckons by building a J.Flex battery into the strap of a smartwatch, for instance, it would give it about six times the capacity currently available.
What does this mean for wearables?
What doesn't it mean! Well, ok, lets start with what it means. Currently, smartwatches and the like have to allow for the rigidity of batteries in terms of both design and functionality. A flexible battery with a much larger capacity immediately releases those shackles.
A battery like the J.Flex could power connected clothing from within the fabric. It could go inside watch straps, fitness bands or the frames of glasses or goggles, not to mention the yet undiscovered products it could open doors to. Even smartphones stand to benefit, especially given the development of similarly flexible displays and circuitry.
The J.Flex has already passed all of South Korea's rigid safety tests and benchmarks - it was folded over 200,000 times without any affect on performance. We're hoping that gives it a better chance than most of reaching consumers. Keep your fingers crossed.
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