André Romelle Young may just earn his self-given stage name, Dr. Dre, thanks to the innovative work of Purdue University researchers. The team discovered that acoustic waves from music, especially rap with its emphasis on bass, could be useful as power sources for implantable medical devices.
Their proof of concept was a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) capable of sensing pressure. The press release describes how the sensor operates and is charged:
The heart of the sensor is a vibrating cantilever, a thin beam attached at one end like a miniature diving board [piezoelectric, composed of lead zirconate titanate]. Music within a certain range of frequencies, from 200-500 hertz, causes the cantilever to vibrate, generating electricity and storing a charge in a capacitor, said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering.
“The music reaches the correct frequency only at certain times, for example, when there is a strong bass component,” he said. “The acoustic energy from the music can pass through body tissue, causing the cantilever to vibrate.”
When the frequency falls outside of the proper range, the cantilever stops vibrating, automatically sending the electrical charge to the sensor, which takes a pressure reading and transmits data as radio signals. Because the frequency is continually changing according to the rhythm of a musical composition, the sensor can be induced to repeatedly alternate intervals of storing charge and transmitting data.
Considering the potential applications of this technology, advocates of rap music could now have an even more powerful argument than just freedom of speech. As the press release describes:
The sensor is capable of monitoring pressure in the urinary bladder and in the sack of a blood vessel damaged by an aneurism. Such a technology could be used in a system for treating incontinence in people with paralysis by checking bladder pressure and stimulating the spinal cord to close the sphincter that controls urine flow from the bladder. More immediately, it could be used to diagnose incontinence. The conventional diagnostic method now is to insert a probe with a catheter, which must be in place for several hours while the patient remains at the hospital.
A very interesting and innovative application of music in medicine. As the German rock band Scorpions sang in their song “What U Give U Get Back”:
As long as I’ve been living
I’ve had music in my veins
Purdue press release: Rap music powers rhythmic action of medical sensor