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article imageReady for the internally implanted fitness monitor?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 9, 2016 in Technology
How would you feel if a fitness monitor, something like a Fitbit, was surgically implanted in your body to allow for the collation of more accurate health data? This could be a step closer thanks to new monitors.
Scientists have developed the first micro-sized (no larger than a speck of dust) sensors capable of being implanted into the human body and of sending wireless signals about the health of nerves, muscles and organs. The sensors are no more than 1 millimeter cube in size.
The prototype devices have been designed at the University of California, Berkeley. The devices do not have any batteries (they are powered by muscle movement inside a body). This is the same research team that have developed micro-devices that have the capacity to control limbs in preparation for advances in electronics (this concept has been covered in an earlier Digital Journal article).
As with the bionics concept, the sensors have been described as a type of “neural dust” by the researchers. This refers to the size of the devices and the fact that they interface with the nervous system.
BioSistemika (@BioSistemika) "Neural Dust May Monitor Your Body Activity in Real-Time."
The devices have been tested out in rats, where the sensors successfully recorded key physiological measurements. The measurements were recorded through the sensors monitoring ultrasound vibrations.
Speaking with Controlled Environments magazine, the lead researcher Professor Michel Maharbiz explained more about the concept: “Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something super-tiny super-deep. But now I can take a speck of nothing and park it next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data.”
In terms of lifespan, the devices are expected to last for around ten years. The devices are designed to be compatible with human physiology and release no toxic substances.
Whether the sensors will be restricted to medical use or be commercialized into an implantable Fitbit-style health monitor remains to be seen. A further application with the devices could be as so-called “electroceuticals”, designed to treat disorders like epilepsy.
The research will be shortly be published. The study was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.
More about implantable wearables, Fitbit, Wearable, wearable technology, Electronics
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