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'Power Felt' Could Charge Cell Phones Using Body Heat (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 02/23/12 06:46 PM ET  |  Updated: 03/05/12 06:41 PM ET

Power Felt Body Heat
Researchers at Wake Forest University have developed "Power Felt," a piece of material capable of turning body heat -- together with outside temperatures -- into an electrical current that can charge electronic devices. In the photo, graduate student Corey Hewitt holds up a sample of the material.

Charging your cell phone may soon require only two items: a simple piece of fabric and your body.

Researchers at Wake Forest University have developed a "Power Felt" that uses thermoelectric technology to charge devices such as cell phones, according to a press release issued by the school.

Working in conjunction with outside temperatures, the material is capable of turning body heat into an electrical current to keep personal electronics devices up and running.

Currently, the material only produces 140 nanowatts of power, which Gizmodo points out is about "a millionth of the power your iPhone uses when its idle," but scientists are doing further research and hoping to drastically improve the quality of the material.

Eventually, the research team at the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials hopes to market a phone-sized fabric swatch for just $1.

According to a video demonstration, charging a phone with the material is easy: just attach the fabric near the battery and hold the device in your hand, graduate student Corey Hewitt explained to WFMY News.

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Hewitt says that with further improvements, the device might come in handy for distance runners who need to charge their digital music players while they're out on the town.

"I imagine being able to make a jacket with a completely thermoelectric inside liner that gathers warmth from body heat, while the exterior remains cold from the outside temperature, Hewitt said in the media release. "It’s pretty cool to think about, and it’s definitely within reach.”

In addition to the obvious convenience factor, lead researcher David Carroll said the material might be useful in urgent situations.

“Imagine it in an emergency kit, wrapped around a flashlight, powering a weather radio...” Carroll said in the release.

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