Your body could charge your phone someday soon

Scientists’ latest discovery may point to a human body being able to charge a smartphone sooner than you think

Close-up shot of female hands using smartphone in the city while waiting for transport.
(Image credit: Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

You may be able to ditch your portable charger soon. Scientists have invented an efficient on-body energy harvester that has the ability to power your devices from the touch of your fingertips—literally!

Engineers at the University of San Diego have discovered how a thin wire, placed on someone’s hand, combined with the wearer’s sweat, could generate enough electricity to power wearable tech such as fitbits and other devices.

Biofuel cells (which use living organisms to generate electricity) were found to also collect extra power through finger exercises, including typing or playing the piano.

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During their experiments, the researchers used the device to try and power a vitamin C sensing system, but they claim it could be used for a variety of other devices, such as fitness trackers

The authors of the study are labeling this invention the “holy grail” of energy harvesters due to the simplicity of its use. 

“We envision that this can be used in any daily activity involving touch, things that a person would normally do anything while at work, at home, while watching TV or eating,” said professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, Joseph Wang, in an interview with the Independent.

“The goal is that this wearable will naturally work for you and you don’t even have to think about it,” he continued.

It’s no coincidence that the main source of power comes from the fingertips. Since our fingertips tend to generate more sweat, according to the authors, that made it easier to create electric power.

“Sweat rates on the finger can reach as high as a few microlitres per square centimetre per minute. This is significant compared to other locations on the body, where sweat rates are maybe two or three orders of magnitude smaller,” according to co-author Lu Yin.

This is just the beginning for the authors of the study. As they look towards the future they claim “there’s a lot of exciting potential” yet to be discovered.

Rylee Johnston

Rylee is a U.S. news writer who previously worked for woman&home and My Imperfect Life covering lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion news. Before joining woman&home and My Imperfect Life, Rylee studied journalism at Hofstra University where she explored her interests in world politics and magazine writing. From there, she dabbled in freelance writing covering fashion and beauty e-commerce for outlets such as the TODAY show, American Spa Magazine, First for Women, and Woman’s World.