Flexible battery market set to grow as wearable technology develops

A report by IDTechEx indicates that the flexible battery market will grow dramatically as more electronic companies develop wearable technology, which needs a flexible power source to operate.

09/27/2015


IDTechEx Research predicts that the flexible battery market will grow from $6.9 million in 2015 to over $400 million in 2025 and wearable technologies will consist for about half of that project growth. Courtesy: IDTechEX ResearchOver the years, the development of batteries has significantly lagged many other components. For example, lithium-ion batteries, which are the most successful commercial battery system, have improved their energy density 1.6 times over the last 24 years. Not exactly a follower of Moore's law like progress. Part of the reason is because materials that can be chosen for the battery development are limited. Companies see the challenge-and opportunity.

Several developments have been made to improve energy density for batteries. One significant development has been flexible battery technologies. However, they have had limited commercial success even though they've been available for 15 years. They have been more expensive, offer lower capacity, and have a shorter shelf life than regular button cell or larger batteries.

Companies have tried to exploit their thinness and flexibility as a way to differentiate them from normal batteries. Successes have been found in a small number of niche applications. One successful application was with skin patches. The battery provided a voltage across an area of skin, opening the pores and allowing the anti-wrinkle cosmetic on the patch to be absorbed about ten times more quickly versus non-powered patches in an effect known as iontophoresis. For a patch applied to a face, that product is only possible with an unobtrusive thin and flexible battery. As a result, a new product category and price point was created with the flexible battery functioning as an enabling sell rather than a value sell proposition.

Despite a few pockets of success, companies have struggled to gain big commercial traction—new product categories need to be created rather than using these as a replacement versus the cheaper, higher performing incumbents.

Electronic companies move into the flexible battery business

The world's largest consumer electronics companies such as Apple, LG, and Samsung have moved into the development of flexible battery technology and that's due in a large part to the wearable technology market. IDTechEx Research predicts that this will help drive the flexible battery market from $6.9 million in 2015 to over $400 million in 2025. In the report "Flexible, Printed and Thin Film Batteries 2015-2025" IDTechEx Research concludes that the current thin film battery market will change radically over the next years as grows with wearable technology comprising the largest share by far.

Wearable electronics and Internet of Things (IoT) devices will increasingly require battery attributes such as thinness, flexibility, light weight, and low charging thresholds to not just differentiate, but create new markets.

Investment in flexible batteries is but one of the key areas of progress for wearable electronics. The first approach has been to reduce the energy consumption of electronics, such as the CPU and displays, in addition to making larger components flexible. Another approach is the charging method, which includes integrating energy harvesting, rapid charging, and wireless charging.

Because technologies such as wearable technology and IoT require different parameters for the battery, aspects such as ultra-thinness, small physical footprints, flexibility, and light weight are becoming increasingly valuable.

TempTraq by Blue Spark Technologies is designed to report a sick child's temperature to the user's cellphone via a flexible band-aid powered by a flexible battery powering a low energy bluetooth circuit and sensor. Courtesy: Blue Spark TechnologiesWhile there is still progress to be made in both the performance of the battery technology and scaling up manufacturing, new products are appearing at a fast rate in a number of different industries. Qualcomm unveiled Enfucell, which is a sensing label for golfers that allows the user to stick the label on the golf club. While playing, the label provides data on the user's phone with information on the user's swing including the speed, angle, and tempo. The electronics and battery form a single monolithic device.

Another example is from Blue Spark Technologies, a printer battery provider, which has launched a smart band-aid known as TempTraq. It is designed to report a sick child's temperature to the user's cellphone via a flexible band-aid powered by a flexible battery powering a low energy bluetooth circuit and sensor.

Wearable electronics and Internet of Things (IoT) devices will increasingly require battery attributes such as thinness, flexibility, light weight, and low charging thresholds to not just differentiate, but create new markets.

- Raghu Das is CEO of IDTechEx. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

ONLINE extra

Click here to read the report by IDTechEx Research.

- See additional stories about energy efficiency and power generation below.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Sensor-to-cloud interoperability; PID and digital control efficiency; Alarm management system design; Automotive industry advances
Make Big Data and Industrial Internet of Things work for you, 2017 Engineers' Choice Finalists, Avoid control design pitfalls, Managing IIoT processes
Engineering Leaders Under 40; System integration improving packaging operation; Process sensing; PID velocity; Cybersecurity and functional safety
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
click me