Heartbeat-powered, Swiss watch-style device will power pacemakers of tomorrow
On the tune of automatic watches that harvest power from movement of the wrist, researchers have developed a wristwatch-style device, which will power pacemakers by drawing power from the heart itself. The smartwatch-style device is created by two researchers – Andreas Haeberlin and Adrian Zurbuchen from the University of Bern and Michigan respectively.
According to the developers, the heart continuously contracts and expands; this along with the cardiac muscles can provide enough energy to power a pacemaker that otherwise require replaceable batteries to keep pumping the heart.
Present day pacemakers are designed to keep heart beating in time, but for this very purpose, pacemakers require battery as a power source. As the pacemaker is placed within the skin, it is a painstaking task to replace batteries as and when they run out.
To overcome the problem, the researchers ripped apart a Swiss watch and modified its age-old self-winding watch technology to develop a watch dial-like device that would use pumping motion of the heart to power it. The wristwatch has small weight that swing back and forth with heartbeat and can power a backup battery with kinetic energy. According to initial testing of the device in pigs, the device has shown prowess to produce as little as 6 microwatts of energy. It is enough to power a pacemaker, the researchers believe.
More studies are slated to be conducted over the next couple of years before this device can actually replace traditional pacemaker batteries.