New Technology | Andrew Chambers

A new technology that I found intriguing is the biological supercapacitor. This “battery” is structured entirely of protein that actively draws electrical power from a human body. This “power” is harnessed from the ever-present ions found in many human body fluids.

This research and development is being made by a vast team of scientists at both UCLA and the University of Connecticut. This technology is currently being applied in the form of Implantable micro-scale energy storage devices that would effectively be implanted into the human body.

This breakthrough is currently able to be used in junction with current implanted medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers and provides a starting point for more experimental forms of implants such as gastric, brain and bladder simulators.

Researchers believe that this device could provide a lifetime of energy to patients implanted medical devices, and thus eliminate the need for regular surgeries. The elimination of the need for frequent operations will make these medical devices much less problematic by limiting the opportunity for complication. By replacing the use of a traditional battery for a biological device, the presence of toxic metals and chemicals is removed from the patient’s bodies. Additionally, by removing the bulky batteries, implantable devices will be able to become much smaller and last much longer.

It is hard to look at this technology without the obvious thought of future applications, the ability to charge any and all of our devices directly from our bodies. While this may seem like an incredible convince, it certainly poses some serious concern. At its best, this innovation could bring about a new low-density renewable resource, but what could go wrong is much less ideal. What are the longterm effects of siphoning ions from one’s body? What happens when people learn to hack these devices? What happens if our bodies, in fact, need this energy for something else i.e The Matrix? One could envision an even darker future where farms of otherwise useless humans are harvested for energy to power the new ruling class of “artificially” intelligent machines.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/aenm.201700358