Solar Energy Harvesting to Improve Capabilities of Wearable Devices

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The market of wearable devices has been growing over the past decades. Smart wearables are usually part of IoT (Internet of things) systems and include many functionalities such as physiological sensors, processing units and wireless communications, that are useful in fields like healthcare, activity tracking and sports, among others. The number of functions that wearables have are increasing all the time. This result in an increase in power consumption and more frequent recharges of the battery. A good option to solve this problem is using energy harvesting so that the energy available in the environment is used as a backup power source. In this paper, an energy harvesting system for solar energy with a flexible battery, a semi-flexible solar harvester module and a BLE (Bluetooth® Low Energy) microprocessor module is presented as a proof-of-concept for the future integration of solar energy harvesting in a real wearable smart device. The designed device was tested under different circumstances to estimate the increase in battery lifetime during common daily routines. For this purpose, a procedure for testing energy harvesting solutions, based on solar energy, in wearable devices has been proposed. The main result obtained is that the device could permanently work if the solar cells received a significant amount of direct sunlight for 6 h every day. Moreover, in real-life scenarios, the device was able to generate a minimum and a maximum power of 27.8 mW and 159.1 mW, respectively. For the wearable system selected, Bindi, the dynamic tests emulating daily routines has provided increases in the state of charge from 19% (winter cloudy days, 4 solar cells) to 53% (spring sunny days, 2 solar cells). Keywords: energy harvesting; internet of things; physiological
Energy harvesting, Internet of things, Physiological sensors, Solar energy, Wearables, Wireless communication, Wireless sensor network
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Páez-Montoro, A., García-Valderas, M., Olías-Ruíz, E., & López-Ongil, C. (2022). Solar Energy Harvesting to Improve Capabilities of Wearable Devices. In Sensors, 22, (10). 3950-3971