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 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Chair in Integrated Sensor Technology

    The University of Edinburgh
    • Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh

    The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top 20 institutions of higher education.....

    • Recruiter: The University of Edinburgh

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Electrical Engineer - Power

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

    Principal Electrical Engineer - Power Join our Electrical Power team and help design the self-contained generation and distribution system for the Successor submarine - a new generation of submarine designed to carry the UK's independent nuclear deterrent

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Operations Supervisor (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation)

    National Grid
    • England, Cambridgeshire
    • £33000 - £39000 per annum

    Operations Supervisor - (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation) Salary: Circa £33k - 39k dependant on experience + vehicle and great additional benefits (share scheme, pension, potential bonus).Location: Wisbech - Cambridgeshire We currently have an excit

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Lead NDT Trainer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Lancashire
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved with training UK and international teams in Non Destructive Inspection (NDI) to support the in service fleet (Typhoon Tornado, and Hawk)?

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Systems Design - Emerging Portfolio

    • Bristol
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   There are fantastic opportunities in Systems Design for engineers to work within Future Systems. These are highly visible, fast paced roles, in...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Metering Engineer

    Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
    • Teddington, United Kingdom
    • £24,109 - £27,961 plus EO Electronics PE of £8,090.00

    We are now looking for a Metering Engineer to deliver RD’s In-Service Testing (IST) scheme for gas and electricity meters.

    • Recruiter: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

    Apply for this job

  • Head of Operational Estates

    Premium job

    The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
    • Shrewsbury, Shropshire
    • £46,625 to £57,640 per annum

    As an experienced Estates Manager, you will play a key role in helping to shape the future of the Estates service.

    • Recruiter: The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

    Apply for this job

  • Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Smart Building Solutions

    Premium job

    ETH Zurich
    • Zurich, Canton of Zürich (CH)

    The successful candidate is expected to develop a strong and visible research programme in the area of control and diagnostics of building systems

    • Recruiter: ETH Zurich

    Apply for this job

  • Process Controls Leader

    Premium job

    Phillips 66
    • Humber Refinery, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire DN40 3DW
    • £60k - 75k plus extensive Compensation and benefits package, dependent upon experience

    Experienced Process Control Leader providing leadership and technical support for Oil Refinery. Extensive Compensation and benefits package.

    • Recruiter: Phillips 66

    Apply for this job

  • Regional Technical Support Manager

    Premium job

    • Warwick, Warwickshire

    You will be required to lead the regional Customer Services strategy and resources to maximise Customer satisfaction.

    • Recruiter: Siemens

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶


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

Subscribe to E&T