Wireless power specialist Powercast and metallic ink creator Liquid X have announced a partnership for wearable fabrics with printed circuits that can be charged wirelessly — and washed without difficulty.
"Today’s smart garments often snap electronics onto the garment along with battery packs that users must detach before washing," explains a spokesperson for Powercast. "With the combined technologies of Liquid X and Powercast, now manufacturers can integrate the electronics directly into the garment.
"First, circuitry is printed on the fabric using Liquid X’s proprietary particle-free ink, including Powercast’s RF wireless receiving antenna. Next, Powercast’s Powerharvester RF wireless power receiver chip, a battery, and other components are mounted onto the printed traces. Finally, an encapsulant provides a high strength waterproof bond to seal in all of the electronics."
The finished wearable is fully sealed and suitable for machine washing, the companies claims, and requires no exposed contacts for charging; instead, a Powercast transmitter is placed in the same closet or drawer and charges the wearable's sealed battery while it's being stored.
The companies are targeting a range of use-cases for the technology, including healthcare sensor systems and LED illuminated clothing for consumers, and has demonstrated the system working with an athletic shirt with built-in LEDs which are powered at a distance of up to 10 feet from the Powercast transmitter — entirely without a battery.
Neither company has yet announced commercial availability of the technology.