Engineers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have developed a self-powered knee sensor to help monitor patients undergoing rehabilitation therapy. The device has a tubular shape and it generates its own electricity every time it’s flexed, enough so to power not only the sensor, but the electronics, and an antenna for wireless data transmission.
The electricity is generated using electromagnetism and the triboelectric effect, which involves a material becoming electrically charged when another material rubs against it.
This device has the capacity to be used continuously by rehab patients without having to exchange batteries, all while statistics on patient movement characteristics is shared with the rehabilitation team.
The researchers believe the sensors, once commercialized, could cost not more than $5 to $10 a piece to produce, which is quite reasonable in the medical device industry. The next engineering steps, which are already being taken, involve miniaturizing the devices and making them more sensitive while using only triboelectricity as the power source.
Perhaps this kind of technology will one day allow for monitoring of other parts of the body, with the heart being of particular interest.
Study in journal Sensors and Actuators A: Physical: A flexible tube-based triboelectric–electromagnetic sensor for knee rehabilitation assessment…