I’ve noticed a lot of articles recently about wearable and insertable technologies. “Energy Harvesting from the Animal/Human Body for Self-Powered Electronics” by Dagdeviren, Li & Wang is the first article I recall discussing how to use the subjects wearing the technology to power the batteries as well! Personally, I love the idea of charging my cellphone via a brisk walk around the block. The authors point out there are many energy sources available:
“Although there are various applicable energy sources for harvesters, including sunlight, IR light from the environment, and radio-frequency power sources through inductive coupling, the body of a living subject is a particularly favorable energy source, given the vast number and wide variety of available energies. For instance, theoretical calculations have demonstrated that body heat, breathing, and arm movements can generate 2.8–4.8 W, 0.83 W, and 60 W, respectively. Although these power sources could offer a compelling way to accommodate the operation of a cardiac pacemaker (50 μW for 7 years), a hearing aid (1 mW for 5 days), and a smartphone (1 W for 5 h), practical demonstrations are needed to show the feasibility of powering such electronics.”
I feel like I have followed many of the ideas presented in Black, Perez-Pinera & Gersbach’s article “Mammalian Synthetic Biology: Engineering Biological Systems” from science fiction to reality. These synthetic circuits could offer new ways to treat many diseases and genetic problems:
“Synthetic biology aims to create new biological functions through the design and controlled assembly of genetic circuits. A genetic circuit is a combination of biological parts that together execute a defined function within a host organism. By deconstructing natural genetic circuits that have been refined by evolution and reconstructing them from modular components, synthetic biologists can gain insight into the structure–function relationship of natural biological systems and use this information to build systems with novel activity.”
Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.