Could this sweat-powered tattoo power our gadgets?

In future, if you want to turn on your phone, you might have to start paying. In sweat. Yes, as unladylike as it might sound (everyone knows we only glow), researchers from the University of California in San Diego have come up with a temporary tattoo that can power electronics based on how sweaty you can get.

As PhysOrg reports, the scientists, led by nanoengineering professor Joseph Wang, weren’t trying to invent an innovative, environmentally-friendly, yet disgusting-sounding new gadget. Their aim was to find a way to measure lactate, the chemical released when people exercise, without invasive blood tests. They came up with a patch that monitors sweat.

As they were doing so, they realised that in order to measure lactate they needed to subtract electrons from it, and that the anode which does this could be added to a cathode to form a battery. The more sweat you can work up, the better it functions. (See Wang and his team explain more in their new video.)

So far, it can only produce at most 70 microwatts of electricity per square centimetre of skin, so we’re some way off being able to slap on a temporary tattoo to fuel all our gadgets. But they’re working to make it more powerful so it can fuel small devices. And this could eventually mean that you never need to worry if your iPod’s charged up before you go running – and you’ll get health-tracking benefits, too.

Plus, it guarantees that no one can mock me if I wear a Hello Kitty temporary tattoo despite being over 30. I think.

[Via Gizmodo]
Diane Shipley

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