From the August 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

Technology is constantly changing, but sometimes it seems as though we're stuck with the same old cylindrical AA batteries. With the proliferation of smaller and more powerful mobile devices, the need for advances in battery technology has never been greater. One company making strides is NEC, which has developed an unusual battery that could become a promising power source for things like smartcards, intelligent paper or wearable comput-ing devices.

Dubbed the organic radical battery, or ORB, it uses an organic radical polymer as its cathode. That means it's ultra-thin, flexible and rechargeable. Its structure is a wafery 300 microns, and it can be recharged in less than 30 seconds. It is also more environ-mentally friendly than standard rechargeable batteries because it can be manufactured without harmful chemicals.

The battery's flexibility makes it a good candidate for thin and compact devices. RFID cards powered by this type of battery, for instance, could transmit information over greater distances than the RFID tags used today.

NEC has not made any decisions on commercialization yet, but it has created several prototypes. There's no telling when entrepreneurs might be able to pick up a device that uses an ORB, but it's an exciting technology to keep an eye on.