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Zarlink unveils wireless chip for medical implants ! - 5/31/2005 6:07:51 AM   
SiliconFreak


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Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. unveiled a ground-breaking chip for medical devices on Tuesday that it says could let doctors monitor a patient's pacemaker or even control a diabetic's insulin dosage from miles away using wireless technology.

The Ottawa-based company said it has the world's first chip designed specifically for in-body communication systems, which wirelessly links implanted devices via base stations to a doctor or hospital.

"Baby boomers are getting older and they require pacemakers and defibrillators and various other devices," said Steve Swift, general manager of Zarlink's ultra low-power communications unit.

"Some of the big companies are even (developing) brain stimulators for things like Parkinson's disease and epilepsy."

Zarlink's high-speed chip transmits about ten times the data of rival products, while consuming about 20 percent of the power, the company said.

The chip's minuscule appetite for power means it can deliver additional features without significantly draining a device's battery.

When it's not being used to transmit or receive information, the chip essentially sleeps. The power-saving design also allows manufacturers to boost battery size.

The chip's high-speed data rate and longer operating range of about two meters (six feet) opens the door to more advanced "in-body communication systems," the company said.

Doctors can use the technology to remotely monitor a patient's health and the performance of their pacemaker.
The chip inside a pacemaker can wirelessly send data to a bedside base station in the home, with the information then sent over the phone or Internet to a doctor's office.

If problems are found, the pacemaker could be adjusted from a hospital, without surgery, using a high-speed, two-way wireless link.

The technology could also be used in implanted blood glucose meters, which control insulin for diabetics, and with so-called body area networks using multiple muscle stimulators to restore lost limb function.

"Pacemakers and defibrillators are ... the immediate place where the technology will be deployed. But of course, we designed it to be very flexible," Swift said.

"Several companies are working on an implantable glucose sensor and even implanted insulin pump."

Potentially, the tiny chip could let a pacemaker tell a similarly equipped mobile phone to contact emergency services during a heart attack. A phone with global positioning system technology could even help locate that patient.

Zarlink already makes low-power chips for hearing aids and pacemakers. One of its chips is part of a diagnostic pill that takes and send images from a patient's digestive tract.


Source : YahooNews
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