Innovative Medical Sensor implants in biomedical electronics

With the advancement in modern electronics technology, eye, ear, lung, heart and brain replacements or enhancements are now becoming possible. Medical sensor implants in biomedical electronics are evolving into practicable options in medicine and biology.

It seems that the popular sci-fiction Six Million Dollar Man is becoming a reality. Advanced medical sensors, implants, solar powered devices and major advances in biomedical electronics are now seen as viable options as modern electronics technology merges with nanotechnology.

The developments in sensors and wireless-communication devices have enabled the design of affordable, miniature, and smart physiological sensor nodes. One innovation is the development of wearable health-monitoring systems, such as WBANs (wireless body-area networks) which include replacements or enhancements of heart, brain, lungs, eyes and ears. This article describes innovative sensor technology to implant biomedical sensors to enhance eye-sight and hearing faculties.

Helping the blind to see

The sight of the people suffering from retinal-degenerative disease such as macular degeneration, which causes blindness, can be restored by retinal-prosthesis development.

Researchers have verified that these prostheses ultimately assist an eye’s lost functions with an implant. This implant contains 15-channel stimulator chip with power-supply components and data-receiving coils implanted on the outer wall of an eye. With an external video-capture unit and a transmitter, the system wirelessly sends image data to the implanted device. Then the image is translated by a custom ASIC into biphasic current pulses of programmable strength, timeline and frequency to the electrode array. Minco also offers advanced-design, flexible circuitry for implants that could help bring this project to reality for the approximately 1.7 million people who suffer from this eye condition.

Helping the deaf to hear

These implants consist of a behind-the-ear processor in the external unit and a battery that uses a microphone to pick up sound, convert the sound to the digital realm. Then this digital signal is processed and encoded into an RF signal to be sent to the antenna in the headpiece. A magnet is placed just beneath the skin behind the ear by surgery to hold the headpiece in place. The primary goal of this implant is to use electrical stimulation safely to provide or restore functional hearing.

The signals are sent in the form of electric currents into the cochlea through wires. The electrodes at the end of the wire stimulate the auditory nerve that connects to the central nervous system, which interprets electrical signals as sound. Safe and charge-balanced stimulation has restored hearing to more than 120,000 people worldwide, thanks to persistent and collaborative work by teams of electronic engineers, physicians and scientists.

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