A new generation of battery-free surveillance devices which can be implanted under the skin and transmit over huge distances via wireless have been developed by scientists.
Researchers are working on nano machines that could be injected into the arms of patients and then report back to doctors who are monitoring them from miles away. They would be powered by the motion of a person walking, or even the pulse of a blood vessel, so would never stop working until the person died.
The technology could also be used in CCTV cameras attached to small flying craft which use their own motion to power themselves. Such devices could be used by hospitals to locate patients or perhaps check if they are following their treatment plan.
But they will also be of interest to the military and the criminal justice system which is constantly on the lookout for new ways to spy on criminals.
The advancements were reported in the journal Nano Letters by Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Tech University in the U.S.‘It is entirely possible to drive the devices by scavenging energy from sources in the environment such as gentle airflow, vibration, sonic wave, solar, chemical, and/or thermal energy,’ he wrote.
The device would consist of a nanogenerator which makes electricity from vibration or motion, a capacitor which stores they energy and a Bluetooth-style transmitter to end the signal. According to Science Daily it would be able to pick up wireless signals at a distance of more than 30ft.
Earlier this year, the world’s first viable nanogenerator was unveiled by Zhong and his team. It took six years to develop and in experiments was able to power an LED and LCD display.
At the time he said: ‘This development represents a milestone toward producing portable electronics that can be powered by body movements without the use of batteries or electrical outlets.
‘Our nanogenerators are poised to change lives in the future. Their potential is only limited by one’s imagination.’