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Communications of the ACM


Sensors on the Brain

sensor attached to a nerve fiber

Neural dust: A sensor attached to a nerve fiber in a rat. Once implanted, the 3mm-long batteryless sensor is powered by ultrasound.

Credit: Ryan Neely / UC Berkeley

More than five million Americans suffer from congestive heart failure, and one out of five die within the first year of contracting the disease. The most common way to treat heart disease is through medication, but the particular drugs and specific doses vary based on the patient. Each patient's condition changes with time, and doctors have limited information about what is happening inside the heart, so they are forced to adjust dosages or regimens based on the patient's behavior, exercise regimen, weight changes, and other factors. "They're trying to manage this complicated system of medications and disease in a rudimentary way," says electrical engineer Nader Najafi, founder of Integrated Sensing Systems Inc.

Najafi's company is developing the Titan implantable hemodynamic sensor (IHM), a device the size of a pencil eraser that can be implanted in the heart of a patient to measure critical variables such as temperature, and then wirelessly transmit this data to a secure database. The Titan device could give caregivers the detailed information they need to adjust medication regimens precisely and improve patient health.


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