Rap charges new medical sensor

What do Snoop Dogg and implantable medical sensors share in common with one another? More than you might think, according to Purdue University researchers.

A new, tiny medical sensor that has the potential to help patients who have suffered aneurisms or paralysis victims with incontinence can be recharged using the acoustic waves from rap music, the researchers found. More specifically, a tone played within a certain frequency range that often is found in rap music causes the device--developed at the school's Birck Nanotechnology Center--to vibrate and ultimately create electricity that can be stored.

Once the frequency is out of range, the stored electricity takes a pressure reading and transmits that data as radio signals, according to the researchers.

The researchers--including Purdue University biomedical engineering professor Babak Ziaie, research scientist Teimour Maleki and doctoral student Albert Kim--said the process must be repeated for a few minutes each hour to monitor blood pressure or the pressure of urine in the bladder. Three other genres of music--including blues, jazz and rock--were tested but weren't as effective as rap.

"Rap is the best because it contains a lot of low-frequency sound, notably the bass," Ziaie said.

Ziaie said that such a device allows providers to remotely monitor a patient's pressure via an implantable wireless device. Typically, patients diagnosed with the conditions must remain at the hospital for several hours while a probe with a catheter is inserted.

The group's findings are scheduled to be presented at the International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems in Paris this week.

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