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The Next Frontier of Wireless Tech? Your Body


A representation of imaging inside the human body.

The body is roughly 60 percent water, which may make ultrasonic sensors a more-efficient way to share information

Credit: University of Buffalo News

University at Buffalo researchers are developing a miniaturized version of sonar technology to be applied inside the human body to treat diseases in real time.

The technology relies on sensors that use ultrasound to wirelessly share information between medical devices implanted in or worn by people.

"This is a biomedical advancement that could revolutionize the way we care for people suffering from the major diseases of our time," says Buffalo professor Tommaso Melodia.

The use of ultrasound to send and receive data in body-area networks is a departure from earlier approaches, which usually relied on electromagnetic-radio frequency waves. However, radio waves generate heat and can require a lot of energy to penetrate body tissue. Melodia says ultrasound waves are more efficient for transmitting data.

"Think of how the Navy uses sonar to communicate between submarines and detect enemy ships," he says. "It’s the same principle, only applied to ultrasonic sensors that are small enough to work together inside the human body and more effectively help treat diseases."

The researchers recently received a five-year U.S. National Science Foundation grant that will enable them to do more modeling and conduct experiments with ultrasonic, wireless body-sensor networks.

"We are really just scratching the surface of what’s possible," Melodia says. "There are countless potential applications."

From University at Buffalo News
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