General Question

fluthernutter's avatar

How safe is it to run a low current through your body?

Asked by fluthernutter (6323points) November 5th, 2013 from iPhone

I recently purchased one of these dolls. I liked the way they look. But the really cool thing about them is that they only sing when you hold both of their hands. You can even join hands with other people to make them sing.

I’m guessing that it works by closing the circuit and running a low current through everyone holding hands. I know that’s generally not a big deal. But what about with every day use? Also, does it affect children differently?

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12 Answers

ETpro's avatar

If we’re talking the sort of electrical flow you’d get from one or two ordinary batteries, it should be entirely safe. Don’t worry about it. Even a small child could conduct that electrical flow safely.

Our bodies aren’t all that conductive, so if a group of people can join hands and complete the chain from one hand of the doll to the other, the current flow would be tiny. I don’t think it works by you completing the circuit that powers to recording. I think the change is resistance between air and body/s probably is sensed and trips a solid-state switch completing an internal circuit to make the doll sing.

fluthernutter's avatar

@ETpro Helpful answer. Thanks! Could you further explain the part about “change is resistance between air and body/s probably is sensed and trips a solid-state switch completing an internal circuit”?

Also, I’m curious. Do you have a background in something related?

jerv's avatar

Unless there is exposed metal, it’s more likely some form of induction, similar to how being near a radio/TV antenna changes it’s reception when you’re right next to it.

Regardless, even if it were bare metal, microamps won’t hurt you. If they did, your heart would explode if you scuffed your feet along a carpet then touched a doorknob and got a static shock; that’s far more powerful than anything those dolls put out. Being within 10 feet of a running microwave is more of an electrical hazard.

Take it from a former Navy electrician who has done too much work on live 120V circuits.

RocketGuy's avatar

I don’t know… That freaky music might be getting conducted straight to your kids’ brains.

ETpro's avatar

@fluthernutter Everybody thinks ET like phone home, but it was my Usenet handle back when I had a company called AMTI that consulted on electronics. Stood for Electronics Technology, not Extra Terrestrial. Since you have to hold both the doll’s hands, or have a group of people holding hands and each end of the chain holding a doll hand, it’s clearly working by conduction through your body or bodies. But the internal workings need a fixed current supply, and the variable resistance of one or more human bodies would not come close to providing that. Sweaty skin is covered in salt and pretty conductive. Dry, chapped hands are a very poor conductor. So it’s sensing that the circuit has been completed with a VERY low current, low voltage flow, and using that to switch on the main current, which flows right from the battery to the workings inside the doll to make her sing.

RocketGuy's avatar

My daughter had a doll like this too. You had to squeeze both hands hard enough to get good enough electrical contact (low enough electrical resistance) to make it talk. I’m pretty sure it worked as @ETpro described. More conduction did not result in more sound, so the main circuit clearly was not going through the doll’s hands.

fluthernutter's avatar

Thanks, you guys are awesome!

I almost feel a little bit bad that there are so many over-qualified jellies answering my silly ol’ question.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@ETpro provided two excellent answers.

One proviso is in order in other instances where there is a very low current but a very high voltage, the risks can be greater particularly because our bodies have a fairly high resistance to the flow of electricity. When you may encounter any such situation, be sure to consult an expert before generalizing from the specifics of this question to entirely difference circumstances.

ETpro's avatar

@fluthernutter Thank you in return, and don’t worry about asking. Asking questions out of concern about your child’s safety is not silly in any way.

mattbrowne's avatar

What matters is the accumulated energy, i.e. voltage times amperage times time.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
SecondHandStoke's avatar

Low current is flowing through all our bodies right now.

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