Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 3:25PM
Photo Credit: Greg Chen
This 1mm computer mentioned on CNET promises to enable really exciting implant sensor control and communication applications. The article does not really go into how this chip would be powered, apart from mentioning batteries or solar panels, which for bio apps would not be very practical. A few months ago I ran across an article covering research into a glucose based electrity generation system, which could allow this tiny computer to draw all the power it needs from the body. I can imagine having one of these implanted at birth to monitor a basic set of health sensing devices, with others added perhaps as part of elective or more advanced theraputic implants over our life cycle as needed.
A basic health application of this chip might perform acoustic analysis of our beating heart, counting time between beats, or identifying abnormal electrical signitures of various heart components over time.
An example of an elective device might be an implant that goes near the ear canal, serving as a sort of sound-card, producing MIDI-like patterns, or synthesizing text to speech for devices located within the body, or outside.
The number of areas this sort of chip can be applied within the body will be limited only by our imagination. Speaking of imagination, if you find this kind of stuff interesting and you're into Scifi, Acts Of The Apostles a novel by John Sundman is a must-read. You can find the first few chapters of his book and buy the rest on his website http://www.wetmachine.com