DARPA neural implant to enhance brain-computer connections

DARPA is leading the development of an improved  neural implant for connecting the brain to computers, using advances neuroscience, synthetic biology, low-power electronics, photonics and medical manufacturing.  Their goal is to to dramatically enhance  neurotechnology research capabilities and provide a foundation for new therapies.

The Neural Engineering System Design program aims to produce a miniaturized brain implant, smaller than one cubic centimeter in size, to improve data transfer. The  device would  translate between digital systems and the electrochemical “language” of the brain for more efficient communication.

NESD  is part of the BRAIN initiative and is led by Phillip Alvelda, who is “upgrading tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”

Current neural interfaces  use approximately 100 channels, each  aggregating signals from tens of thousands of neurons. The NESD program aims to develop technology to communicate directly with  one million individual neurons in a brain region.

Initial applications will include devices for those with sight or hearing impairments.  The system could feed digital auditory or visual information to the brain with  greater resolution and clarity than current technology.

Phillip Alveda will discuss this and other DARPA initiatives  at ApplySci’s NeuroTech San Francisco conference on April 6th.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

Sensor monitors, regulates IV fluid flow

The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology‘s Ajay Kottapalli has developed a cheap IV drip sensor to monitor and regulate fluid flow.  A signal is sent to a control unit which can adjust the flow speed or alert staff.  This can reduce the amount of time nurses spend checking patient IVs — which is estimated at 30% of their time, according to the researchers.

More importantly, better monitoring can save lives.  Infusion of fluids into the body at the wrong rate can be fatal.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

 

Self-dissolving implanted brain temperature, pressure sensor

Wilson Ray and Washington University colleagues,  in partnership with John Rogers,  have developed a miniaturized wireless  device to monitor temperature and pressure when implanted into the brain following TBI.  The implant then dissolves, to be naturally reabsorbed into soft tissue, once  no longer needed.

Current methods involve an implanted sensor that must be hard-wired to an external monitoring instrument,  with risks of hemorrhage or infection, and requiring multiple rounds of surgery.

The technology has positive implications for various types of monitoring or therapeutic devices that are implanted or ingested.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

Glucose monitoring breath test

Applied Nanodetectors is in the early stages of developing a noninvasive breath sensor for diabetics to monitor daily glucose levels.  By measuring the levels of volatile organic compounds in breath, if accurate, this could replace finger pricking for disease sufferers, and create a simple diagnostic test.

The company has a related product that monitors the concentration of exhaled trace gas chemicals in an asthma patient’s breath, before symptoms develop, for early warning of attacks.

This, and similar technologies (see ApplySci, 1/11/16), could lead to the incorporation of medical grade sensors into smartphones, which could enable continuous monitoring of multiple conditions.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

“Bubble-pen” writes with nanoparticles

Yuebing Zheng and University of Texas colleagues have developed a “bubble pen lithography” device and technique to quickly, gently and precisely handle nanoparticles.  This can support the creation of accurate and highly sensitive biomedical sensors for drug delivery or imaging, among other applications.

The method relies on micro bubbles to  inscribe nanoparticles onto a surface.  A laser is focused underneath a sheet of gold nanoislands to generate a hotspot that creates a microbubble out of vaporized water. The bubble attracts and captures a nanoparticle through gas pressure, thermal and surface tension, surface adhesion and convection. The laser steers the microbubble to move the nanoparticle on a site on the surface. When the laser is turned off, the microbubble disappears, leaving the particle on the surface.

Existing methods, used to etch materials on a substrate, cannot precisely apply nanoparticles to a specific location.  Bubble-pen lithography can also use a 3D printer-like program, depositing nanoparticles in a pre-programmed pattern in real-time.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

Handheld spectrometer identifies low-grade brain tumors

Emory and Georgia Tech researchers have developed a highly sensitive spectrometer  to identify low-grade gliomas from healthy tissue.  The hand-held device  contains a light source and detector tuned to the excitation and emission wavelengths of PpIX.

The team claims that the device is 3 times more sensitive than current surgical microscopes, and enables the detection of as few as 1000 tumor cells.

This could lead to the ability of surgeons to remove low-grade gliomas with fluorescence-guided procedures.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

 NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

Smart helmet + rate activated strap could minimize head injury severity

The Army Research Lab continues to develop technology aimed at protecting soldiers, athletes and others from impact related head injury.

Its rate-activated helmet-strap can prevent violent head motions, while permitting (necessary) voluntary head motion. The material stretches with low, elastic force at slower speeds, and resists with high force when pulled quickly upon impact.

Used in combination with sensors that quantify impact in real time, and detect and monitor biological and physiological indicators of TBI, the strap system might be able to minimize injury.

The project is being funded by the NFL, GE, and  UnderArmour. Click to view the video of project manager Eric Wetzel describing the technology.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5,2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Misson Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

Phone chip may sense cancer in breath

Image:  The Yomiuri Shimbun

A consortium led by Yoshikawa, Genki and National Institute for Materials Science colleagues is in the early stages of developing a phone sensor that they claim is capable of detecting cancer by analyzing breath odor.

A tiny chip is said to determine whether substances linked to cancer exist in one’s breath, and calculates whether he/she is suspected to have the disease.  The result is displayed on a phone’s screen.

NIMS believes that the sensor will be able to distinguish  cancer type in the future. It also may be able to determine odors linked to respiration in diabetes, kidney & liver disease, and asthma.  The researchers are working on multiple applications for both clinical and self quantifying scenarios, and hope for it to be available by 2022.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

Brain architecture linked to consciousness, abstract thought

UMass professor Hava Siegelmann used fMRI data from tens of thousands of patients to understand how thought arises from brain structure. This resulted in a geometry-based  method meant to advance the identification and treatment of brain disease.  It can also be used to improve deep learning systems, and her lab is now creating a “massively recurrent deep learning network.”

Siegelmann found that cognitive function and abstract thought exist as an agglomeration of many cortical sources, from those close to sensory cortices to those far deeper along the brain connector. Her data-driven analyses defined a hierarchically ordered connectome, revealing a related continuum of cognitive function.

Siegelmann claims that  “with a slope (geometrical algorithm) identifier, behaviors could now be ordered by their relative depth activity with no human intervention or bias.”


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

 

Wearables + app + AI for personalized fitness coaching

Under Armour has partnered with IBM Watson to create a fitness app called Record.

Exercise, sleep and food intake are recorded from wearables, apps, and one’s own entries, and analyzed by Watson, which provides personalized coaching based on the data of others with similar fitness profiles.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences