Imagine a temporary tattoo that collected sweat from your workout and then turned it into a new way to power your smart phone. It may sound gross or unrealistic, but researchers at the University of California in San Diego believe that we will be powering small devices with sweat at an increasing rate. Joseph Wang led the research team in developing a sensor that is similar to a temporary tattoo that can generate an electrical current from exposure to sweat.
Wang’s typical research is much more critical than powering smart phones. His work includes, but is not limited to, nanomotors, nanomachines, biosensors, bioelectronics, and microfluidic devices. Wang is also the Director of the UCSD’s Center of Wearable Sensors.
The temporary tattoo responds to lactate, according to Mashable, and is intended to actually measure lactate levels for health purposes. Measuring lactate in sweat can help test for heart and lung disease, for example. The research team took that technology a step further and built a bio-battery into the sensor that could store some of the electricity that is generated as the sensor of the tattoo strips electrons from the lactate in the sweat.
Currently, the technology is more suited for devices used in health technology that use very little electricity. A smart tattoo only collects a few microwatts of power from sweat. This is no where near enough electricity to power a smartphone, but researchers believe that at the rate technology advances, it could be a possibility in the foreseeable future.