Sometimes, the best innovations are inspired by simplicity and intuition. For cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices, this means turning the heart into a source of power rather than relying on the limited lifespan of batteries.
Much like most electronics, CRM devices such as a pacemaker or a defibrillator require a battery as a source of power in order to operate. However, having a device with a limited lifespan implanted into your body means replacement is inevitable and this can pose several issues and risks. Today, University of Michigan researchers are developing CRM devices that eliminate the use of batteries completely by using heart vibrations to power CRM devices. According to researchers Daniel Inman and Amin Karami, heart vibrations generate significantly more power than what a pacemaker device requires in order to operate. It seems so intuitive: instead of using batteries, why not use the energy that is already produced by our own bodies.
In addition to drastically changing the functionality of traditional devices, this technology will especially be useful for leadless pacemakers where extraction as a result of battery replacement remains a concern for adoption. Today, lead extraction is considered a high risk procedure as scar tissue builds around the leads inside the heart, and leadless pacemaker extraction is expected to be even more complex. Though this technology is still under development, I'm convinced that simple intuition can make the largest impacts in innovation.