ID-10020924As I wrote in May, the biggest constraint in any kind of medical device design today is battery technology, which has not kept pace with the progressive aspects of medical devices.

But energy-harvesting technologies for use in wearable designs show promise, in spite of four key engineering challenges: 1) the power they generate; 2) how they manage and store that power; 3) the size of their harvesting elements; and 4) the cost.

Battery sources are capturing new forms of solar, thermal and vibrational energy in ways that extend the charge-life of wearable devices by days, weeks and months – including an evaluation board developed by Silicon Lab, which uses a solar cell source that measures only .17mm high and can hold power for up to 7 days in the dark.

There is indeed great potential for harvested energy in the future of medical device design. But the question remains: Just how scalable are these technologies, in terms of minimizing their size and cost, and maximizing their reproducibility for broad commercialization?

(Image: Pixomar at