Two US companies have teamed up to make it easier to add wireless charging of flexible electronics to washable smart fabrics.
Powercast in Pennsylvania has teamed up with neighbouring Liquid X, a manufacturer of metallic inks, on a printed electronics venture. This will enable garment makers to easily integrate wireless power functionality into durable, flexible and washable e-textiles, from consumer to medical applications.
Manufacturers can use the Liquid X proprietary ink technology to print circuitry directly onto a garment, add Powercast’s Powerharvester RF wireless power technology and a battery, and seal this all into the garment with a waterproof encapsulant during the manufacturing process.
The aim is to stimulate cost-effective manufacturing of durable e-textiles, with battery-powered features such as health and wellness, movement monitoring, or LED-based illumination embedded directly into garments, that consumers can recharge over the air, and wash, without having to remove a battery pack.
Today’s smart garments often snap electronics onto the garment along with battery packs that users must detach before washing. This joint capability allows the integration of the sensors and LEDs directly into the garment with simple recharging. This happens via a Powercast RF transmitter in the closet or drawer where the smart wearable garment is stored. The RF energy from the transmitter is picked up by the receiver in the garment, converting it to direct current (DC) to charge the battery.
Earlier in the year the two Pittsburgh-based companies showed a smart athletic shirt prototype that illuminates using printed electronics and LEDs powered over the air up to 10 feet away from the wireless transmitter.
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