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Medical Sensors Powered by Human Generated Energy



OBJECTIVE: The objective of this topic is to research, develop and demonstrate a capability to harvest energy from human motion and/or body heat to power into an integrated small disposable wireless adhesive medical sensor placed on a casualty. 

DESCRIPTION: Current and future small patient medical devices and sensors placed on a casualty during field care near the point of injury or while en-route during extraction and evacuation are battery powered with a limited life span. As the DoD moves toward “prolonged field care” were a medic or corpsman may have to hold onto a casualty longer, up to 72 hours, current battery life on these medical devices and sensors is not sufficient. Future small disposable wireless adhesive medical sensors will be required to measure SPO2, HR, ECG, temperature, and other human factors in addition to wirelessly transmitting this medical data to an End User Device (EUD), i.e. an Android smartphone, to be displayed on a GUI, something similar to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK). An integrated capability for medical sensors to harvest energy from human motion and/or body heat would allow medical sensors to operate for 72+ hours without requiring either a large battery or connection to an external power source. This integrated capability on the medical sensor can either replace the existing battery or provide an additional alternative source of energy to augment the existing battery. The human body has the ability to produce enough equivalent energy to power a 100 watt light bulb, ref #5. A capability that can harvest this energy would be significant and enhance a medic’s ability to monitor casualty vital signs for a greater length of time. Harvesting energy from the body to power medical sensors has the potential to reduce a medic’s or soldier’s load. Medics and Soldiers currently have to carry extra batteries to extend the life of their devices, which add additional weight and space in their field pack. If devices can be powered by harvested energy, then the medic and soldiers can eliminate the need to carry extra batteries. 

PHASE I: Design and develop an innovative approach to power a small disposable wireless adhesive medical sensor by integrating a capability of harvesting energy from the human. Conduct a feasibility study of the proposed approach to inform the development of a conceptual design of the integrated sensor package. Using software and/or hardware prototypes develop a breadboard/proof of concept demonstrator capable of capturing and storing energy to power portable devices that can be further developed into a test bed product that can be field tested during the Phase II research period. This Phase will demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed approach through successful demonstration of harvested energy from the human body, and will inform success criteria and performance metrics for the Phase II system design. 

PHASE II: From the results of the Phase I feasibility study and concept demonstration, continue preliminary design of the integrated energy harvesting medical sensor system. This capability needs to provide enough energy to power a small disposable wireless adhesive medical sensor that is collecting vital signs data (Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, and Respirations), ECG, and skin temperature on a patient/casualty continuously for 24 hours a day during prolonged field care and during en-route care. This capability also needs to provide enough energy to power a wireless (Ultra-Wideband, Tunable Narrowband, or an acceptable DoD wireless capability in an operational environment) radio within the medical sensor that will transmit the medical data collected continuously from the medical sensor to an End User Device (EUD), Android smartphone, to be displayed on the EUD GUI. Integrate the energy harvesting capability with current or future disposable wireless adhesive medical sensor, and develop prototype integrated devices that can be evaluated and tested in simulated combat casualty care missions in an operationally-relevant field environment. During Phase II; develop a ruggedized prototype that can possibly be taken to the field for initial evaluation testing with medics around the 1 year mark. If a field evaluation test is possible, the medics provide their guidance and recommendations on the continued development of the device. Consider developing a ruggedization plan for Phase III and Advance development Develop a commercialization plan. If IRB is required during Phase II, submit an IRB package to US Army MRMC HRPO. 

PHASE III: Continue development and refinement of the prototype Human powered wireless medical sensor to a capability that is ruggedized, complies with space, weight, and power specifications informed by the Phase II medic field evaluations, is disposable, and moves the prototype capability towards advanced development/acquisition. 


1: Popular Science – Harvesting Energy from Humans.

2:  Utility Drive – 5 Ways you can use the human body to generate electricity.

3:  Business Insider – Scientists have found a way to Generate Electricity from the Human Body.

4:  ARS Technica – Your body, the battery: Powering gadgets from human "biofuel".

5:  Extreme Tech – Will your body be the battery of the future?

KEYWORDS: Human Generated, Alternative Energy, Harvesting, Human Power, Human Biofuel, Human Battery, Matrix 


Mr. Carl Manemeit 

(301) 619-1102 

James Beach 

(301) 619-8912 

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