Tiny, Wirelessly-Charged Medical Devices May Be on the Way

ECG printout and stethoscope

Researchers from Stanford University may have found a way to wirelessly charge medical devices implanted inside the body simply by waving a small power source above the skin. This could dramatically transform the appearance and use of a wide variety of medical devices, including pacemakers, nerve stimulators and drug delivery systems.

The researchers said that wirelessly-charged devices have the potential to eliminate large battery compartments and recharging systems, allowing manufacturers to make devices even smaller. These tiny devices, or “microimplants,” could be easier to place inside the body or might even fit in new anatomical locations, creating new avenues to treat disease.

To create the new devices, the researchers blended two different types of electromagnetic waves into “mid-field waves” that can effectively and safely penetrate the skin. Using the new technology, they have already created a wireless pacemaker smaller than a grain of rice. So far, it has been tested on a rabbit, but researchers are preparing to test it in humans as well.