Implantable Bionics of the Future
Implantable devices will collect physiological monitoring and other data in the personalised health systems of the future. There are a number of wearable and non-invasive telehealth devices in current use that are increasingly being used for the unsupervised management of patients suffering chronic disease.
In the near future there will also be wearable technologies for automatic detection and prevention of falls. However all these technologies suffer from both user induced artefact and compliance issues. Assuming we can make sensors and support electronics small enough by implanting such devices these issues will disappear. Such sensing could also be integrated into existing therapeutic and diagnostic implants (such as pacemakers, defibrillators, sensory neuroprostheses, insulin delivery systems) to provide said functionality.
A simple example would be incorporating triaxial accelerometry into a cardiac pacemaker or into a dedicated implant so if a person experiences a fall or a long-lie scenario, emergency services could automatically be contacted.
Apart from the obvious ethical issues associated with invasive monitoring, there are three critical technology issues that must be addressed for this vision to become a reality. These are;
1. Power: the need for a small and long-lasting implanted power source or efficient transcutaneous power delivery, possibly augmented or based on power scavenging technologies in situ.
2. Telemetry: the need for efficient data transmission from the implanted device to an external data gathering point.
3. Sensing: the need for new, biocompatible sensing technologies that transduces physiological and other values in a stable and accurate manner.
Lovell, N.H., Morley, J.W., Chen, S.C., Hallum, L.E., G.J. Suaning, G.J. (2010). Biological-machine systems integration: engineering the neural interface, Proc. IEEE, 98:3, 418-431.
Shany, T., Redmond, S.J., Narayanan, M., Lovell, N.H. (2012). Sensors-based wearable systems for monitoring of human movement and falls, IEEE Sensors Journal, 12(3), 658-670.