Say what you like about bendy iPhones, thanks to CSIRO bendable technology is the future.
We’ve all seen the photoshop hoaxes and concept images of bendable technology: smartwatches that wrap snugly around your wrist, tablets that you can fold down to the size of a credit card. Up until now, it’s all been a crazy, sci-fi pipedream. But, just like Microsoft brought The Minority Report into our living rooms with the Xbox Kinect, Australia’s very own Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are making the bendable tech dream a reality. Soon you could be sending messages from the sleeve of your jacket and charging your phone in the pocket of your backpack.
The bulk of just about any smart device is taken up by a large, rigid battery. And with flexible circuitry readily available and cheap to produce (floppy keyboards), and flexible OLED displays being manufactured using thin-film transistor (TFT) technology, the rigid, rectangular battery really is the only thing holding back bendable tech.
The Advanced Energy Storage team at CSIRO have found a solution to that exact problem by inventing a bendable battery. But, they’re not stopping there. The team are giddy with excitement over the doors the flexible battery opens. Imagine, batteries that store energy from piezoelectric materials (materials that generate electricity when pressured or twisted) woven into your clothes or inserted into silicone rubber, a coat with an inbuilt mobile phone, lycra that stores and powers a GPS and fitness tracker. These are a just a few examples of what the breakthrough could offer.
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And, just to give us a taste of what the future has in store for us, CSIRO have conceptualised a backpack (pictured below) with a self-sufficient power supply called the Flexible Integrated Energy Device (FIED). The FIED three important features: an energy harvesting system that generates energy through natural movements, a flexible battery that stores that energy when needed and fabric woven with conductive fibres that is also capable of charging your electronic devices without the need for cables. To top it all off, the device is completely washable. In CSIRO’s conceptual backpack, every component is woven into the fabric, and the only thing that makes it visually different from any other backpack is a small number of outlets (hidden in a pocket) to charge your various devices. Very exciting stuff from the organisation that put Australia on the map for technological innovation.