The term “internet of things” refers to the ongoing habit of new items being connected to a network that can monitor them constantly. Not only computers, but household items like refrigerators and microwaves, and more recently wearables like watches and glasses, can be enabled to send messages about performance and upgrades any time, anywhere.
One of the biggest problems facing these items is power: you won’t always have a plug nearby or a spare battery on hand. The best thing would be for these items, especially the wearables, to be able to charge themselves on the go.
Two MIT engineers think they have cracked this charging code. Dina Reda El-Damak and Anantha Chandrakasan have developed a small-scale converter chip, perfect for wearable devices, that can transfer up to 80% of solar energy into electricity.
This is a huge improvement over normal solar cells, which can only convert about half the energy from the sun into usable electricity.
These new cells are able to not only power the device in the sun, but charge the battery so that the device will keep working in low-light surroundings.
“This enables a new class of ‘Internet of Things’ devices,” says Chandrakasan, since they will be able to charge anywhere sunlight is available and hold onto more power than ever before.
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