Wireless brain-implant chip could help with Parkinsons

11 February 2016
By Tereza Pultarova
Mobile version
Share |
This chip, only five times five mm in size, could improve usability of neural implants for Parkinson's disease sufferers

This chip, only five times five mm in size, could improve usability of neural implants for Parkinson's disease sufferers

An innovative smart chip for implanting in the human brain could be a breakthrough in portable health monitoring devices and wearables.

The chip, developed by scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, has been described as being 100 times more energy efficient than similar chips already available.

Energy efficiency is key for the potential of the chip, which is only 5x5mm in size, as it doesn’t require bulky batteries yet is still able to transmit data with an accuracy of up to 95 per cent.

“It will lead to more compact medical wearable devices, such as portable ECG monitoring devices and neural implants, since we no longer need large batteries to power them,” said Assistant Professor Arindam Basu from NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The chip, for example, could be implanted in the brain of a Parkinson’s disease sufferer and communicate with neural implants, designed to alleviate the patient’s symptoms. Alternatively, it could be used to enable amputees to move their artificial limbs.

Currently, such implants need to be connected to an external computer that decodes the brain signal. Such a solution is not only cumbersome and impractical but also potentially dangerous as it requires permanent holes in the skull through which the wires lead to the implants. These holes could easily get infected, threatening the patient’s life.

Previous experiments with wireless transmission from neural implants achieved only mixed results. For the brain signal to be useful, a large amount of data needs to be transmitted, which requires a lot of power. Enough power for a wireless transmitter would require bulky batteries for which there is no space in the brain.

The Singaporean researchers solved this problem by carefully reducing the amount of data transmitted.

Although the chip can analyse thousands of signals from the neural implants, it focuses on abnormalities and only sends out the most relevant data after compressing it.

The researchers said they had tested the chip on animal model data and were able to successfully decode up to 95 per cent of the signals.

The chip could also be used in various Internet of Things devices, such as remote video cameras for detection of intruders.

Similar to the brain implant application, the chip would again only transmit the relevant information in a compressed package instead of the whole data stream.

According to marketing research firm Gartner, there will be 20.8 billion smart devices and appliances connected to the Internet by 2020, which means that reducing network traffic will be a priority for most companies.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1606

"Where would Frankenstein and his creative mind fit into today's workplace? Should we fear technological developments or embrace them?"

E&T jobs

  • Design Engineers and Safety Engineers

    Babcock
    • South West England
    • Competitive

    Exciting opportunities have arisen within as we expand to meet the growing demands of the UK Submarine Programme.

    • Recruiter: Babcock

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Consultant

    EA Technology
    • Capenhurst
    • Up to £60k DOE + company bonus, generous pension scheme & benefits package

    EA Technology are recruiting for Experienced Consultants to deliver a broad portfolio of projects within our Smart Interventions Division.

    • Recruiter: EA Technology

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Consultant

    EA Technology
    • Capenhurst
    • Up to £45k DOE + company bonus, generous pension scheme & benefits package

    EA Technology are recruiting for Experienced Consultants to deliver a broad portfolio of projects within our Smart Interventions Division

    • Recruiter: EA Technology

    Apply for this job

  • Mid-Level Electrical Engineer

    Max Fordham LLP
    • London

    We are looking for an electrical engineer with around 4- 6 years of design experience to join and work with an able and talented group of engineers..

    • Recruiter: Max Fordham LLP

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • Norwich, Norfolk
    • Competitive + Pension + Personal BUPA cover

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • Dorchester, Poole or Bournemouth
    • Circa £29,000

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • London
    • Competitive + Pension + Personal BUPA cover

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

  • Project Manager - Eastern Region

    Defence Infrastructure Organisation
    • Woolwich, London
    • £24,362 (plus car, +10% supervisory allowance)

    Opportunity to be at the heart of what SSG will be delivering to its wide and varied client base.

    • Recruiter: Defence Infrastructure Organisation

    Apply for this job

  • Project Manager - South West

    Defence Infrastructure Organisation
    • Shrivenham, Swindon
    • £24,362 (plus car, +10% supervisory allowance)

    The Project Manager would be responsible for remedial and small/medium new project works across the Southwest of England

    • Recruiter: Defence Infrastructure Organisation

    Apply for this job

  • Nuclear Facilities Governance Manager

    BAE Systems
    • England, Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness
    • Negotiable

    Nuclear Facilities Governance Manager Would you like to be accountable for all the Nuclear Governance for both existing day to day facilities on the Barrow Site in addition to the Proposed Facilities development which is part of the multi-million pound si

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T