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Rap Music Can Power Medical Sensors

Rap music can power medical sensors

You may think rap music, medicine, and incontinence have nothing in common, but researchers at Purdue University say they do. The scientists have developed a concept whereby the pounding bass rhythm of rap music can be harnessed to power medical sensors that have been implanted in the body to treat people who have incontinence or aneurysms.

Feeling the music can recharge medical sensors

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of listening to music and feeling the vibrations from the bass in your organs and bones, like they were trembling. The development of a new type of miniature, implantable medical sensor could give new meaning to “feeling the music.”

The new device is a type of microelectromechanical system, or MEMS, and it is a mere 2 centimeters long. At the heart of the device is a cantilever beam composed of lead zirconate titanate capable of generating electricity when compressed.

The idea is that acoustic waves from music, and especially rap music because of its persistent driving bass rhythm, can recharge the implanted pressure sensor by causing the cantilever to vibrate when they pass through the body. These vibrations generate electricity, which is stored in a charge in a capacitor, according to Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at Purdue.

A patent application has been submitted for the design, which was created in the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue’s Discovery Park, and a paper on the concept will be presented during the IEEE MEMS conference in Paris, January 29 to February 2.

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Although the researchers also studied the use of jazz, blues, and rock, they found that rap music worked best. The acoustic waves must be within a certain range, from 200-500 hertz, to set the cantilever in motion.

When the frequency goes outside the range, the cantilever stops vibrating and the charge is transmitted to the sensor, which then takes a pressure reading and sends the information to a receiver that can be placed near the patient. Such a medical sensor could be implanted in individuals who suffer with incontinence related to paralysis.

Use of such a new sensor has advantages over current implantable devices, which use batteries or a method called inductance that requires an external transmitter. The need to replace batteries and difficulty retrieving data from sensors that use inductance could be avoided with the new sensor.

The sensor can also be recharged using plain tones. However, Ziaie explained that “a plain tone is a very annoying sound. We thought it would be novel and also more aesthetically pleasing to use music.”

The good news for potential medical sensor users who don’t like rap music: “You would only need to do this for a couple of minutes every hour or so to monitor either blood pressure or pressure of urine in the bladder,” according to Ziaie.

Purdue University

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