Self-Sustaining Devices Enable Medtech Innovations

Zurich – Helbling supports innovations in medical technology with energy harvesting, whereby devices become energy self-sufficient through ambient energy. This enables active implants, for example. Helbling uses a systems engineering approach to implement such solutions.

Medical devices could potentially rely less on batteries in the future through the use of energy harvesting solutions, leading to even smaller implants. This is described in a technical article by the engineering and consulting firm Helbling, which supports companies in this development and has already completed numerous projects in this field. According to the Helbling experts, many promising technologies are currently in the starting blocks, especially for medical devices. In this principle, energy from the environment is harnessed for the operation of a system. Energy harvesting is generally relevant, for example, for systems designed for continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels and implantable pacemakers. These solutions could help further reduce the need for surgeries, medical risks, and healthcare system costs.

The technical article focuses in particular on the development process. At Helbling, multidisciplinary teams apply a systems engineering approach that requires a holistic analysis. The focus is initially on the functions and the energy budget of the system. Subsequently, within the context of application scenarios, energy sources in the environment such as light, heat, or motion are identified and tested under real conditions. With regard to possible technological solutions, the next step is to investigate converters. They enable the energy source to be converted into electricity: photovoltaic cells, for example, generate energy from light, electrodes from biochemical substances.

According to the technical article, so-called harvester circuits are important here. They guarantee a reliable energy supply. They rely on architectures and circuits that have become widespread with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The authors estimate the potential for energy harvesting solutions to be very high, and research is therefore running at full speed. In the implementation of such solutions, Helbling heavily relies on its partner network to drive technology transfer for innovations in the medical technology sector. ce/yvh

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