Pacemakers have proven to be lifesavers, literally. However, there is one tiny bit of problem with them; like all the other devices they run on batteries and when those batteries run out of juice, a surgery has to be carried out in order to change the pacemaker. This is where the team of Swiss scientists from the University of Bern comes in with a unique approach to the problem; they suggest making use of the patient’s heartbeat to generate power that will be used to power the pacemaker.
Professor Rolf Vogel, Bern cardiologist, came up with this fabulous idea about four years ago and has been working on it since then. The end result prototype is inspired from a wristwatch that makes use of user’s arm movement to wind a mechanical spring, which upon unwinding provides power to a micro-generator. The mechanism has been incorporated into this gadget.
The device is stitched to heart’s myocardial muscle where the heart’s contractions help in winding the spring and the resulting energy from unwinding is transmitted to a capacitor that powers the pacemaker. As of now, the capacitor is electrically wired to the pacemaker. The system has been able to crank up 52 microwatts when it was tested on a live pig that weighed in at 60kg. The current pacemakers require only 10 microwatts making this gadget quite feasible.
The team is working on miniaturizing the gadget even further while making it more sensitive as far as the motion of heart goes and wants to incorporate the energy generator and storage mechanism into the gadget itself. The research was presented at the ESC (European Society of Cardiology) Congress, by PhD candidate and team member Adrian Zurbuchen on this Sunday. Check out the youtube video below for more: