Power capacity from earcanal dynamic motion

Johan Carioli, Aidin Delnavaz, Ricardo J. Zednik, Jérémie Voix
2016 AIP Advances  
In-ear devices, such as a hearing aids, electronic earplugs, and wearables, need electrical power to operate. Batteries are the current solution, but unfortunately they also create other problems. For example, several hundred million users, mostly elderly, must change their hearing aid batteries on a weekly basis, which represents not only significant financial costs but a negative environmental impact. A promising alternative involves harvesting energy by converting the dynamic jaw movements
more » ... to electrical energy via the earcanal. The extent that jaw movements distort the earcanal is still unknown, making it difficult to design the appropriate energy harvesting system for the earplug. Moreover, the finite element methods are barely capable to model the behavior of the earcanal distortion because of the complexity of mechanisms that deform the earcanal. However, this paper presents an alternative method, based on analytical considerations, to understand in-ear mechanical quasistatic deformations using earcanal point clouds. This model quantifies the bending and compressive movements of the earcanal. It can therefore be used to select an appropriate deformation mode for harvesting energy from the earcanal's dynamic motion. The value of this approach was illustrated by calculating the obtainable mechanical energy from 12 human subjects. On average, the bending energy in a human earcanal was found to be three times greater than the radial compression energy. This key finding will need to be considered in the design of future in-ear energy harvesting devices. Such an energy harvesting device has the potential to revolutionize the market for in-ear wearable devices and hearing aids by complementing or replacing battery technology. © 2016 Author(s). All article content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license
doi:10.1063/1.4971215 fatcat:cbjoy675ifganoxrcchcn6mfsm