Modern gear for going off grid: New smartwatch is powered by body heat alone

You might think that there is no point to wearing electronic devices when you’re out in nature, but there are a number of surprisingly useful gadgets that you can bring with you whenever you go off-grid. Case in point – there’s a new multi-use product called the Matrix PowerWatch X, which is a new kind of smartwatch that uses a unique power source: You.

Indeed, the PowerWatch X is billed as “the smartwatch that is powered by you,” and offers typical smartwatch features in a package that can supposedly draw power directly from your body. To be more specific, it uses a thermoelectric generator (TEG) in order to stay charged as it completely forgoes a standard built-in battery. Its maker, Matrix Industries, already has at least one other TEG-equipped watch under its belt, but it lacked the ability to show notifications. The PowerWatch X fixes this inadequacy and retains the unique ability to charge through body heat.

According to its makers, the PowerWatch X works rather simply. It has a TEG that rests directly on a user’s wrist and has a conductive aluminum surface. Its entire housing, meanwhile, is made out of metal and plastic, ensuring that while the charging mechanism gathers heat, the rest of the device stays relative cool – cool enough to keep strapped on your wrist, at least. Heat transfers from a user’s body to the watch itself while the watch is worn.

It is said that a number of different things can affect how quickly the PowerWatch X charges. While other smartwatches only need to take into account the proximity of the charging plate and the charging source, the PowerWatch X is affected by a user’s activity level as well as the ambient temperature, and will not charge any places that are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in heat. With that said, even if the charging function isn’t working, the watch itself will continue to work. Of course, it may sustain damages if not taken to someplace cooler.

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Beyond the uniquely interesting ability of the PowerWatch X to charge off a user’s body heat, it also has a number of rugged watch features. These include water-resistance up to 200 meters, a “nearly indestructible” silicone wrist strap, a step counter, a calorie counter, and a built-in stopwatch function. It also has an auto-sleep function that gets activated after a certain period of inactivity from the user – such as after it gets taken off – but automatically switches on again when it detects some movement.

There are some critics and electronics experts who hold the view that it may be hard for a device like the PowerWatch X to function. After all, they argue, the spot on the human wrist where the watch rests could not be adequate to serve up enough heat to power it. But Matrix Industries maintains that their product does indeed work, and that it can be bought on pre-order basis for only $279 each. Shipping inside the U.S. is free but shipping outside of the country costs $30.

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