Technology company Danfoss PolyPower has developed a wearable sports sensor technology that uses an electrostatic film for measuring things like force and stance. The technology as it is could be used by professional or amateur athletes to monitor a wide array of things related to performance including knee and elbow angle, range of motion, over-movement, shoulder alignment, breathing patterns and muscle volume, providing hard data that could improve their game, but the developers have bigger plans for the electrostatic film in the form of energy harvesting. The stretchable material could potentially harvest mechanical energy from things like human movement, machinery or ocean waves.
Gizmag reports, "PolyPower material is a proprietary version of Dielectric Electro Active Polymer (DEAP) technology. The film consists of a patented combination of silicone dielectric material with a corrugated surface and a very thin layer of metallic electrode on top of it. As with other types of DEAP, PolyPower material reacts when a voltage is applied. By applying a high voltage, electrostatic pressure causes the film to expand in plane and contract in thickness. The corrugation on the PolyPower material allows it to be stiff across the width or length while stretching the other way.
The electrostatic properties of the PolyPower material can be manipulated in several different ways for different applications."
When a voltage is applied to a stretched piece of the film and the film is then relaxed, the voltage increases significantly, converting the mechanical energy into electricity. The film could be used on machinery to harvest energy or for powering other sensor technologies from human movement. On a bigger scale, the company is already working on a pilot installation of the material for harvesting offshore wave energy.
The videos below give a closer look at the energy harvesting potential of the technology and its application in sports monitoring.