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PowerWatch Could Be Game-Changer For Smartwatches

As with smartphones, battery life is growing to become a major factor when it comes to the factors that make a good smartwatch. There’s no point spending $600 on a wearable device that can’t make it through the day without needing to be recharged. Overcoming limitations here could prove crucial for the growth of the category.

That’s where the newly announced Matrix PowerWatch comes in. Developed by a start up team out of the US, Matrix Industries recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for the device through Indiegogo.

At first glance, it’s the same sort of fitness-focused wearable you’d expect out of FitBit. While it lacks smart-functions like notifications or apps, it can display the time, track your steps, track your sleep quality and act as a stopwatch.

It’s also water resistant up to fifty meters.

However, it’s the leading feature of the device that’s important. The Matrix PowerWatch forgoes a traditional battery for a thermoelectric power solution.

The watch draws heat from the body of the wearer and converts that heat into electricity to charge itself and power its AMBI Q processor.

Essentially, it requires no charging.

Functionally, it’s definitely a first generation product. That said, it’s definitely something to watch.The concept of a smartwatch that requires no charging is an alluring one and it’ll be interesting to see how Matrix build on the tech in the future and whether or not bigger companies look to incorporate them.

Matrix Industries told ChannelNews that they plan to sell direct after the campaign is over and aim to be in retail stores by the end of 2017.

They told us they plan to iterate and expand their range of thermoelectric wearables into other areas including “hearing aids, smart IoT sensors in factories that monitor and collect all sorts of data.”

According to them, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

“The company got its start as a high tech developer of thermoelectric materials. We realized there was a large pain point when it comes to charging a wearable device. That’s when we decided to build our own smartwatch system level solution that is powered by body heat.”

They say “A thermoelectric with a lower thermal conductivity and higher electrical conductivity would convert heat into electricity more efficiently. A better DC-DC boost converter would allow us to more efficiently use our thermoelectric’s energy. Right now, the boost converter we use throws away 2/3 of the thermoelectric’s energy.”
 
That inefficiency is what keeps the functionality of the PowerWatch as simple as it is but as time goes on and other companies attempt to leverage this technology, that may not be the case.
 
One or two generations down the line, the next Samsung Gear could contain the same technology – and that’s likely to make a world of difference when it comes to growing the size of the smartwatch market.
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