Groundbreaking Innovation in Powering Wearable Devices with Body Heat

Wearable devices, from fitness trackers and medical monitors to hearing aids and pacemakers, have become increasingly prevalent. However, the functionality of these devices remains limited by their battery life, which currently requires recharging or replacement and can hinder user experience. 

FlexiCharge is a pioneering company that is addressing this challenge head-on by tapping into the untapped potential of body heat as a renewable energy source. 

Dr. Deepa Madan

The revolutionary technology behind FlexiCharge was developed by Dr. Deepa Madan, an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMBC. Through her research, Madan and her students have developed a method of generating electricity by harvesting the body’s own energy. It works by utilizing the temperature difference between the human body and ambient air called a thermoelectric generator (TEG). These flexible TEG supplemental power supplies will charge a capacitor or battery, enabling “off-grid” power production for wearable devices. When placed in contact with the body, one side of the TEG is in contact with the wearer’s skin, while the other side is exposed to the ambient environment. This temperature gradient creates an electrical potential that can be harvested to generate power. 

FlexiCharge designed their TEGs to be flexible, providing product designers with much more design flexibility by enabling a reduction in needed battery size with the same or more device uptime. The TEGs are also tunable, giving designers the ability to add enough supplemental power for unlimited device uptime. Its proprietary manufacturing process is the real innovation here, producing components faster and much less costly, making it commercially viable.

Deepa Madan talks with a student in her lab, working on a related project on flexible batteries.

Like most research scientists, Madan knew she would need support to bridge the gap between academia and industry and navigate the commercialization process to successfully launch FlexiCharge. Enter bwtech Entrepreneur-in-Residence Chris Ewing, a seasoned Sales and Marketing expert with a wealth of experience in building successful ventures and a passion for nurturing entrepreneurial talent. 

Chris’ involvement has been instrumental in the company’s progress, working with Madan on everything from strategic business planning and market positioning to product development and building connections with potential industry partners and investors. By leveraging Chris’ expertise in business development, market analysis, and startup growth strategies, FlexiCharge is poised to unlock the full potential of Madan’s innovative research and make a lasting impact on society and the world. 

Chris Ewing and Dr. Madan with UMBC students on the FlexiCharge team

FlexiCharge’s amazing supplemental power supplies are not available yet. The company is currently in the early stages of developing the flexible TEG, thanks in part to winning the prestigious NSF CAREER Award in 2023 and Phase Three funding from the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) in 2024. The MII program is designed to promote the commercialization of promising university research to help bring innovative tech solutions to consumers more quickly.

Madan is excited about bringing this innovation to market and noted how vital Chris’s influence has been in propelling FlexiCharge’s progress. She states, “Having Chris on my team is like having a compass in uncharted waters. Under his guidance, FlexiCharge is quickly gaining momentum in the wearable product development industry and is poised to drive tangible positive change for the benefit of society.” 

FlexiCharge’s impressive progress is a testament to the transformative power of research and entrepreneurship in driving innovation and shaping the future of sustainable energy solutions. 

Learn more about FlexiCharge