Look, we make no bones about it; we love our technology here at Comms. We spend our lives deep in cables and cabinets and many things in between, but we also love the tech advancements far and away from our chosen field; advancements that we can only shake our collective heads with wonder and applaud.

So we were intrigued to read of the breakthrough in wireless technology that can aid in our health and, this is the intriguing bit, be embedded inside our bodies. All very sci-fi! It sounds like a premise from a Philip K. Dick novel, yet this remarkable advancement could bring a very welcome future relief to millions.

The talented people at Stanford University have found a potentially whole new future for sufferers of diseases such as Parkinson’s, heart failure and depression.

There is some way to go with their tests; however, Ada Poon, the lead researcher, is positive that her team are close to making a significant breakthrough. “We need to make these devices as small as possible to more easily implant them deep in the body and create new ways to treat illness and alleviate pain,”      

Co-author of the study, Dr John Ho had this to say, “With this method, we can safely transmit power to tiny implants in organs like the heart or brain, well beyond the range of current near-field systems.

Poon’s team developed a new type of near-field wave that propagates through the skin and body tissue, rather than is reflected like longer wavelengths or absorbed by like typical near-field chargers. The wireless charging emits waves at roughly the same power levels of a mobile phone and is therefore deemed safe for use.

A friend of mine has a pacemaker and of course when he had it fitted it saved his life, yet the downside to them is the size of the battery. Now, however, the charging technique advancement means that a device around the size of a credit card can be used, making redundant the need for bulky batteries, which allows for the ability to fit them into tight and sensitive parts of the body.

William Newsome, director of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, said Poon’s work created the potential to develop “electroceutical” treatments as alternatives to drug therapies.

He said such treatments could be more effective than drugs because implantable devices would directly target specific areas, unlike drugs which act globally throughout the body.

“To make electroceuticals practical, devices must be miniaturised, and ways must be found to power them wirelessly, deep in the brain, many centimetres from the surface,” said Newsome. “The Poon lab has solved a significant piece of the puzzle for safely powering implantable microdevices, paving the way for new innovation in this field.”

This, for me, is so exciting and Poon and her team at Stanford University should be applauded. I sincerely hope for the continued success of tests.

Until next time…