Health Care 3.0

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The Magic School Bus or a Wireless Medical Device?

For those who remember the adventures taken by Ms. Frizzle & her class aboard a magical school bus & thought their escapades through the human body could never be duplicated, you are sorely mistaken. Well, sort of. Engineers at Stanford University have designed a wireless, battery-less medical device that can propel itself through the bloodstream.

Physically being able to implant or inject a device like this without the need for large batteries or power cables may be years off, but for the first time in decades the possibility exists. Ada Poon, an assistant professor of electrical engineering who presented her work at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) believes this development could revolutionize medical technology. Here she explained the list of devices that could steam from this technology include stationary ones such as heart probes, chemical and pressure sensors, cochlear implants, pacemakers and drug pumps. In addition, Mobile devices could deliver drugs, perform analyses and maybe even dissolve blood clots or clear plaque from sclerotic arteries.

To get a better sense of how this 3X4 millimeter chip works, watch the video below. Basically, an antenna picks up a signal from a radio transmitter outside the body. By transmitting power wirelessly, the transmitter can run electronics on the device and propel it through the bloodstream. Professor Poon has created two types of methods for the device to self-propel. One of which involves using alternating electrical currents to make the device wobble back and forth to move itself forward.

Professor Poon makes it clear there is room for improvement & that work still remains before we see devices such as this implemented. Yet, there is no denying the excitement for potential medical applications to come from this. For right now, field trips with Ms. Frizzle & the gang will have to do.

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Tags: Application, Device, Health, Implant, Medical, Standford

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