Scientists have managed to develop a new monitoring technology of the human body which can facilitate scans and provide more accurate information than any current method. This capacity is only available for those who are willing to be implanted with a neural dust sensors.
The technology was developed at the University of California, Berkeley, by a team of scientists led by computer engineer Michael Maharbiz and neuroscientist Jose Carmena. They created a wireless sensor that they call ‘ultrasonic neural dust’ that can be implanted inside the human body to monitor neural activity.
Although all sorts of chips and sensors have been implanted in the human body and other animals before, this new neural dust technology is vastly superior as it doesn’t require batteries, it’s much smaller, wireless and could last in the body for an extended period without degrading.
The neural dust sensor has been tested on animals, implanted in the muscles and peripheral nerves of rats. Thanks to its ultrasonic capabilities it’s able to both power and read measurements. According to Maharbiz, the long-term prospects for the sensor are much broader and not limited to just the monitoring of nerves. It also applications for accessing the body’s telemetry.
“This opens up a host of applications regarding embodied telemetry: being able to put something super-tiny, super-deep in the body, which you can park next to a nerve, organ, muscle or gastrointestinal tract, and read data out wirelessly.”
Other applications for the neural are in the field of bioelectric medicine and electroceuticals therapies which consist of implants that can modify nerve signals. The neural dust sensor can monitor and communicate with all other implants.
Although its initial prospects are very promising, the technology still requires further development and testing before any human clinical trials will take place. But in spite of the numerous benefits of this types of technologies, people can be wary of them and might not even want to have such a sensor implanted in the first place.
The research was funded in part by DARPA and the full findings of the study were published in the journal Neuron.
How do you feel about this neural dust sensor being implanted inside your body?
Image source: Berkeley