Researchers from the University of Michigan have developed a new technology called BioBolt that can use human skin to transmit neural signals and has the potential to help treat or cure paralysis.
The BioBolt is a minimally invasive technology that allows a person to send signals through their skin in order to induce a paralyzed limb to move. It resembles a bolt and is about the circumference of a dime, with a thumbnail-sized film of microcircuits attached to the bottom. It is implanted in the skull beneath the skin and the film of microcircuits sits on the brain. The microcircuits act as microphones to listen to the overall pattern of firing neurons and associate them with a specific command from the brain. Those signals are amplified and filtered, then converted to digital signals and transmitted through the skin to a computer.
"We are sending signals through the skin," says Euisik Yoon
, an electrical engineering and computer science professor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering
. "We're using the skin as a conductor."
BioBolt could also potentially be used to control epilepsy and diagnose certain diseases, such as Parkinson's. The University of Michigan is pursuing intellectual property protection for the BioBolt and is looking for potential partners to help bring the technology to market.
Source: Euisik Yoon, electrical engineering and computer science professor at the University of Michigan College of EngineeringWriter: Jon Zemke