Thinking Tech

How rap music helps bladder control

How rap music helps bladder control

Posting in Energy

Researchers find that the frequencies found in rap music can effectively power a tiny sensor embedded in a body to measure blood pressure and urine levels.

The doctor might order hourly doses of Jay Z or Snoop Dogg along with the insertion of internal medical sensor to monitor blood pressure. A research paper to be presented this week finds that a new tiny medical device—about 2 cm long—can be powered by the deep bass rhythm of rap music.

Within the sensor is a vibrating piezoelectric cantilever, which is a beam that is long and thin like toothpick held at one end. Music within the frequencies of 200-500 Hz causes the cantilever to vibrate which then generates electricity that stores a charge in a capacitor. Once the sensor is charged it transmits data as a radio signal. Researchers experimented with blues, jazz, rock and rap music. But rap turned out to be the best because of the low frequency sound in its bass.

Babak Ziaie, engineering professor at Purdue University, is quoted in a press release:

"The music reaches the correct frequency only at certain times, for example, when there is a strong bass component. The acoustic energy from the music can pass through body tissue, causing the cantilever to vibrate."

When the frequency falls outside of the proper range, the cantilever stops vibrating, and automatically sends the electrical charge to the sensor, which takes a pressure reading and transmits data.

Ziaie says it would only need to be charged for a couple of minutes every hour to monitor blood pressure or urine levels for people suffering from incontinence due to paralysis. The sensor can check the pressure of the bladder and then stimulate the spinal cord to close the sphincter that controls urine flow.

This new technology removes the current challenges of powering internal body sensors with batteries or through a procedure called inductance. Batteries need to be replaced periodically. With inductance, the sensor’s coils and an external transmitter need to be precisely lined up only a centimeter apart, in order to function properly.

Of course if Lil Wayne, Ludacris or Young Jeezy aren’t your thing, the sensor can also be charged by playing a few simple tones within the right frequency range.

The paper will be presented during the International Micro Electro Mechanical Systems conference, running from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 in Paris.

[via Eurekalert]

Share this

Christie Nicholson

Contributing Writer

Christie Nicholson produces and hosts Scientific American's podcasts 60-Second Mind and 60-Second Science and is an on-air contributor for Slate, Babelgum, Scientific American, Discovery Channel and Science Channel. She has spoken at MIT/Stanford VLAB, SXSW Interactive, the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, the Space Studies Board and Brookhaven National Laboratory. She holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Dalhousie University in Canada. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure