One of the biggest challenges of any Health Tech product is providing power to the product, whether it is a sensor or a display or some other device. Some solutions can get by on harvested power, but most designs required stored energy of some sort; in short, they need a battery. Most battery technologies are problematic, however. They tend to be rigid and often bulky. And then there’s the SoftBattery developed by the Finnish company Enfucell.
The SoftBattery is a thin and flexible device less than 3 tenths of an inch thick that stores electrical energy. The largest model is roughly 2.5 inches square, and delivers 1.5 volts DC while storing 90 mAh of power. That would be impressive enough, but the battery is made without hazardous materials. It uses manganese dioxide, zinc, and zinc chloride. Perhaps the most interesting feature of all, however is the fact that the SoftBattery is fabricated by printing. The devices are produced in a continuous roll-to-roll process that lowers costs and can be easily adopted to create batteries of different sizes.
In a story published by Plus Plastic Electronics, Enfucell researchers have reportedly increased the peak current output of their SoftBattery by 50%. The new 20 mA output now directly supports the power requirements of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication. This makes it a practical power source for sensors that can then communicate their data to a smart watch, smartphone, or other receiver. And it is a thin, disposable power source that can drive all sorts of patient monitor devices at home and in hospitals.