|Collaboration Brings New Potential for Implantable Devices|
Sometimes to think big, you have to think smaller, as IMEC and Olympus have done in their partnership for their low-power intra-cardiac signal processing chip. Running at a low 20µW, the potential for monitoring can go even further than the heart, shaping the future for the miniaturization of other implantable devices throughout the body.
“When you want to go to such small volumes, one of the limitations is the battery. You have to make it smaller,” says Firat Yazicioglu, spokesperson for IMEC. “Once you make it smaller, the capacity increases. Low-power designs are one of the key aspects of miniaturization.”
The chip, which is used for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), which uses implantable electronics to regulate heart rhythm, has an acute motion sensor and has three ECG channels for heart rate monitoring readouts that can determine whether a person is lying down, exercising, or needs an adjustment in therapeutic treatment. The chip can also sense the fluids in the lungs to examine early heart failure and examine respiration rate.
“This result shows the possibility of longer battery life [with] accurate and fast biological information sensing,” says Tamiya Kosei, IMEC’s research partner with Olympus.
As more companies are looking to address the challenges surrounding implantable electronics, the partnership between IMEC and Olympus brings a renewed sense of hope. Although there have been devices like this in the past, they were rather large and had less functionality. This device would allow patients to return to normal functioning while the chip will acquire information, digitize it, and transfer it to digital platforms so it can be properly monitored.
“The information used is to see whether [the patient] needs therapy or is living his daily life and needs a different pacing,” Yazicioglu says. He sees the potential for the chip to help other devices miniaturize, which may change the way that therapy is delivered. Pacemaker companies are also seeing the potential of the chip, and may want to implant them into their devices as well.
IMEC is currently looking at other applications for the chip such as developing implants for the brain particularly for assisting in cases of brain damage, targeting epilepsy, and examining neurological responses to certain functions. These things would be used both for clinical information and scientific research.
In the meantime, IMEC is planning some initial tests to check the efficiency of the chip in the body and will be checking the results once the chip goes through further clinical tests.
Reina V. Slutske is the assistant editor for MD+DI.