Panasonic has developed a new bendable battery that is suitable for use in wearables such as smartwatches and fitness bands. The new battery goes into mass market production this month and should be seen as a first stepping stone to bringing bendable smartphone batteries to the mass market.
For now, the Panasonic lithium-ion battery has a low capacity of 60mAh, which is far short of the battery capacity in smartphones, like Apple’s iPhone 7,which has a battery capacity of 1,960mAh
In addition to up-scaling the battery technology, other components still need to be made truly flexible as well. These components includes folding screens, which are still largely conceptual.
However, Samsung is believed to be working on a flexible or rollable smartphone, so it is not a case of ‘if’ we will ever see a truly flexible phone, but simply ‘when’.
Panasonic’s flexible lithium-ion battery has been shown off at CEATEC Japan 2016, which was held at the Makuhari Messe convention centre. The battery, which has a thickness of only 0.55mm, will be used in wearable devices.
The battery retains its characteristics, even after repeatedly bending it into a radius of 25mm or twisting it through an angle of 25 degrees.
The battery also retains its charging and discharging characteristics. The battery can be charged to 99% of its original capacity after 1,000 bends or 1,000 twists.
Panasonic’s lithium-ion battery also has almost the same capacity retention over 1,000 recharging cycles (80%), as when a battery hasn’t been repeatedly twisted or bent.
Battery safety is once again under close scrutiny, thanks to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 battery crisis. However, Panasonic’s battery is reliable and safe enough for use in smart clothing or to be directly attached to the human body.
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This is made possible through a newly developed laminated outer layer and internal structure. The battery uses Panasonic’s unique stacked electrode construction and this makes it very difficult to cause abnormal heating or leakage during repeated twisting and bending.
Expect to see Panasonic’s bendable battery in wearables and IoT (Internet of Things) devices this year. Expect to see truly flexible smartphones in 2017, maybe.
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Written by: Michael Brown