Scientists invented a formula to produce stretchable batteries. Tech company startup Ocella pitched the bold idea to a panel of judges at San Diego’s Quick Pitch competition, in an effort to win a $50,000 prize for innovative new ideas. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, 22-year-old chemical engineering entrepreneur Lu Yin is behind the project and he hopes to mass-produce the concept in the very near future. Ocella’s stretchable battery uses a patented ink formulation for making long-lasting batteries that can stretch—hence, stretchable batteries. Basically, it means the batteries can be of any size, can be molded into any shape and will be stretchable and bendable at the same time.
Yin, along with his co-founder Rajan Kumar, discovered a way to make everyday surfaces, like clothes and walls, into battery-powered devices. Their specially-designed ink can be printed onto vests, jackets, shirts and other clothing using standard silkscreen printers. They can also be painted onto walls or other flat surfaces and can be used as a working battery.
Stretchable Batteries: A Bold Innovation
“These guys didn’t invent e-textiles, by any means. They have an ink formulation process, which from what I understand, can be incorporated into electronics that go into textiles,” said Russell Hall, a Tech Coast Angels member and investor who helped judge the competition. “What really resonated with me is that this is very much the path to the future.”
Yin and Kumar—both former students of the University of California, San Diego—designed their technology by using the university’s facilities and have been advised by experts in the field. What’s exciting about this material is that they claim to already have a working prototype of the stretchable batteries.
Bendable, Stretchable and Washable Battery!
According to reports, the pair is just six months away from perfecting the ink formula so that it can be stretchable, printable, bendable, and washable and can come into skin contact without issue.
“People have been working on stretchable electronics for a while, but their approach is usually using the structure of the battery itself. So you can create wrinkles on batteries so when you stretch the wrinkles reach each end,” Yin shared. “With our formula, we make the battery internally stretchable.”
Designing Batteries Around Products
Yin claims that his company Ocella can design batteries around products as opposed to designing products around the batteries. “The applications are vast and range from extending the life of common devices to powering military communications in the field,” he notes.
“For example, if you attach an Ocella battery to an Apple Watch band, it can increase the device’s capacity by 25 percent to 50 percent,” Yin said.
Ocella, so far, has raised $100,000 since Yin and Kumar left university to get this product to market. They will also be looking for investment once the company leaves its research and development stage and will hopefully mass-produce the product within the next few years.
Indeed, this bold idea will most certainly have a positive impact on our everyday lives. In recent years, wearables have been fast becoming one of the biggest sellers in the technology industry. As such, just think of the endless possibilities this technology will present itself. It will benefit not only wearable tech but also many other industries worldwide.