Researchers have announced the successful implementation of an electrical device that draws its power from its host’s body. This little chip uses the electrical potential in the inner ear to power a radio, and it doesn’t include a battery. It draws its power from a chamber filled with ions, which normally converts the mechanical force of sound into an electrochemical signal that brains understand. Researches from MIT implanted these sensors (which take chemical readings) into guinea pig’s ears. The guinea pigs could still hear well–a large concern, because if the chip drew too much power it could disrupt normal hearing. In fact, so little power was sipped that it took between 40 and 240 seconds to fill up a capacitor enough to power a very low-power radio.
This opens up many possibilities: ear implants that never require a battery, diagnostic tools that stay implanted forever, and significantly improved cochlear implants. Not to mention that biotechnology is somewhat obsessed with developing implants that don’t need batteries. Sure, it’s only been tested on guinea pigs so far, but it’s really cool that we’re starting to harness a little battery that’s in every person’s ears.