American researchers have developed a new technique to transmit data from brain implants. Their solution allows high-speed, very low-consumption communication, even if it is necessary to wear a device resembling headphones.
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One of the obstacles in the development of brain implants is how to transmit the data collected by these devices. The body tends to wrap them in tissue, limiting the signals which must then be stronger. This requires more energy, while implants are very limited. Researchers at Purdue University in the US are working on what they call the Internet of Bodies (IoB), the intersection of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the human body.
In an article published in the journal Nature Electronics, they explain how they managed to create a wireless communication system for brain implants using the properties of human tissue. Their method is called biphasic quasi-static brain communication (BP-QBC).
High-speed wireless communication
The researchers transmit the signals on a specific frequency band, which can go up to a few tens of megahertz. These are frequencies transmitted much more easily by tissues, and which still allow high-speed communication with the implant. To capture the signals, the patient wears a device containing electrodes, which takes the form of headphones. This allows “high speed” communication, up to 10 Mbps.
According to the researchers, this approach would significantly reduce power consumption for data transmission, which is then divided by 41 at a frequency of 1 MHz to reach only 0.52 microwatts. They hope that this advance will make it possible to create new implants in order to advance research on Parkinson’s disease, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, epilepsy, depression, and even obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD).
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