Walking will literally become integral to the survival of artificial heart recipients, thanks to a leg brace currently being developed by university students in the US that provides the power needed to keep those tickers ticking.
The students are from Rice University in Houston, Texas and the latest iteration of the idea generates power every time the wearer bends their knee. This moves an electric motor attached at the knee, which generates the power that is then fed to the synthetic heart beating in the wearer’s chest.
That makes daily walks a requirement, rather than a polite suggestion from a doctor, but also a way around the problem of having an unreliable electricity supply.
This is all according to Engadget, who also writes that the team has added the ability for the brace to store generated electricity in a lithium-ion battery, and overcome their biggest challenge of making the brace comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Future plans for the brace include the ability to send generated electricity wirelessly to synthetic hearts.
That may sound like a rather lofty goal but the technology has come a long way, to the point where there are several companies working on wireless electricity transmissions right now, like WiTricity and Power Cast Co., both located in the US.
Here is the brace in action:
[Source – Engadget]