New energy-efficient chips can be powered by body heat

Texas Instruments has designed a proof-of-concept chip that uses a tenth of the power of modern-day chips. This is a huge innovation that could lead to far better battery life for anything that uses a chip and is powered by batteries including phones, medical devices, and sensors.

The jump in efficiency was attained by reducing the amount of energy flowing round the chip from 1.0 volts to 0.3. There is also a built-in DC-to-DC converter to greatly reduce power consumption without needing an external unit. Enough of the tech jabber and back to real life.

The chip uses so little energy that it can be completely powered by ambient heat sources, such as the body heat of a human. How awesome is that? We would love to see more advancements in this direction so we can ditch our chargers and power all of our gadgetry with body heat.

But don’t shuffle your feet while walking on a carpet… capacitive coupling to the ‘worn’ chips could ESD them when you discharge yourself, as you inevitably (and accidentally) will. Too many sources of ESD are able to create a few dozen volts of charge over your body; I’ve already reset wristwatches that are based on 3.3 volt technology.