People-Powered Medical Devices?
Medical devices seem to get smaller every year. Think of something as simple as a pacemaker or hearing aid. Like their bretheren PCs, these gadgets that help enhance and extend our lives continue to shrink. Yet the size of a power source to drive the device cannot decrease in size at the same rate.
Like with solar power, what if power for medical devices could be generated by natural means – our bodies? There would truly be no limit as to how small an electronic medical device could get. And therefore replacement surgeries could be a thing of the past. Did you know our bodies maintain fluids in the ear that contain an electrochemical gradient? A report in Nature Biotechology featured Boston scientists who harnessed power from this liquid in the inner ear of a guinea pig. Using a tiny circuit board implanted into the furry friend’s ear they measured electricity via radio waves. Though only a nano watt every 5 hours, it is a start. It certainly won’t power the world, but the important thing to know is the guinea pigs hearing was not harmed in the entire process – making the experiment a minimally invasive process with no damage. So yes, perhaps a day will come when our bodies can be used as a power source and decrease the need for replacement surgeries on life saving devices.