Elon Musk, the millionaire businessman behind Tesla and SpaceX, recently revealed what his Neuralink enterprise has been up to for the past few years. Neuralink is designing a brain-machine interface, or BMI, which will one day help the disabled use artificial arms or other devices. Musk even imagines a future where capable individuals additionally have BMIs that will let them speak with computerized reasoning all the more effectively. So, is it beyond wearable electronics?
Biomedical Engineering is an area that crosses the divide between healthcare and engineering. It’s attracted the interest of other scholars around the globe over the last few decades. Wearable Electronics is one of the main themes in this area. It provides continuous patient monitoring. In the past 4/5 years, it attracts the attention of many companies all over the world. Big names like Apple, Xiaomi, and Samsung have already invested a considerable amount in the healthcare domain. In the past 4/5 years, wearable products have been manufactured commercially at a drastic rate. Now, the research attention switches to move one step further—the new area of interest switches to implantable devices for the connected healthcare system.
How it’s Different from Wearable Devices?
One of the obvious questions is how these implantable devices are different from wearable products. Well, as the name suggests, these implantable devices are placed inside the body. On the other hand, we can put the wearable devices over the body. One of the commonly used wearable products in recent times is the smartwatch. It’s not just a watch. It can measure bp, heart rate, and level of sugar.
Although, it’s still prohibited to perform experiments with these implantable devices that present inside the human body. But it’s expected between 2025-2030, We will get the license for placing these devices inside the human body. Scientists are testing all the experiments related to this inside the pork, chicken, and guinea-pig in the current scenario.
The implantable devices are much similar to wearable products. But, the size of implantable devices is small compared to the wearable products. Several of the main components are listed in brief below.
It is the crucial component of any implantable electronic system. We are using various types of sensors for that purpose. The selection of sensors is purely based on what kind of application is required. Some of the commonly used sensors can be Pressure Sensor, Motion Sensor, ECG sensor, Microwave sensor, etc.
The antenna performs a key function in sending and detecting the EM signals. There are two distinct frequency bands allotted for this purpose. One is the ISM band(2.45 GHz), and another is the MICS band(401-405 MHz). A no exhaustive list would include imaging, septic wound, cancer treatment by hyperthermia, and enhancement of drug absorption, to mention but a few. In conventional medicine, in particular, electronic technologies are influential in enhancing the safety and treatment of patients, for example, by reducing the invasiveness of surgical devices with electromagnetic (EM) radiation.
3: Amplifiers and Noise Canceller:
After the implementation of the implantable device inside the body, various bio-signals come into play. Many bio-signals are present inside any animal. Hence, to detect one type of bio-signals, the other types of signals must be eliminated because these unwanted bio-signals will behave as noise for that particular signal. Hence, Noise canceller circuitry must be very compact and robust. Moreover, bio-signals are very weak. To detect them and to process them, we need high gain amplifiers. This circuitry is mainly comprised of short channel MOSFETS (< 9nm).
When the system is implanted inside the body, proper attention must be given to health safety. It must not react with blood, bone, or serum or any other parts of the body. For safety, the whole arrangement must be enclosed with a bio-compatible layer. The most commonly used bio-compatible material is PDMS.
5: Power Supply:
Power Supply is another essential element in the implantable system design. In general, a constant power supply is required for the regular operation of the device. The size of the power supply must be very compact. Nowadays, Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) is also used for this purpose.
The entire system must be provided in a single chip. The size of the chip must be very compact and user-friendly.
Once it comes to implantable technologies and integrated healthcare systems, there are two significant obstacles.
The SAR or Specific Absorption Rate is how much energy is absorbed by the tissue due to an RF/Microwave source. The SAR value must lie within the specified limit mentioned by IEEE. For that reason, the amount of SAR must be within 1.6 W/Kg for 1gm of living tissue for 1W of input power. SAR reduction techniques are available in the case of wearable devices. But, in the implantable scenario, a proper technique is not yet observed.
In the case of connected healthcare applications, the antenna must continuously transmit a signal to the Receiving end. But, when various human tissues surround the antenna, the antenna’s gain reduces drastically. Moreover, if very high gain antennas are used, then the SAR value also increases. Thus, there is a trade-off between the gain of the antenna and the SAR level.
I think you got some basic ideas about “Beyond wearable electronics.”
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