SINGAPORE: An Indian-origin scientist has developed a smart chip that can be paired with neural implants for efficient wireless transmission of brain signals — thus alleviating the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or give paraplegic people the ability to move prosthetic limbs.
According to assistant professor Arindam Basu from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), the research team has tested the chip on data recorded from animal models which showed that it could decode the brain’s signal to the hand and fingers with 95% accuracy.
“What we have developed is a very versatile smart chip that can process data, analyze patterns and spot the difference,” professor Basu said.
Currently, neural implants when embedded in the brain need to be connected by wires to an external device outside the body.
For a prosthetic patient, the neural implant is connected to a computer that decodes the brain signals so the artificial limb can move. These external wires are not only cumbersome but the permanent openings which allow the wires into the brain increases the risk of infections.
The new chip can allow the transmission of brain data wirelessly and with high accuracy.
“The chip is about a hundred times more efficient than current processing chips on the market. It will lead to more compact medical wearable devices, such as portable ECG monitoring devices and neural implants since we no longer need large batteries to power them,” Basu explained.
Designed to be extremely power-efficient, the patented smart chip will analyze and decode the thousands of signals from the neural implants in the brain before compressing the results and sending it wirelessly to a small external receiver.