Streaming live from your liver

explains a surprising new idea that could change lives

Image: Dr P. Marazzi/Science Photo Library

Image: Dr P. Marazzi/Science Photo Library

A recent study at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign just proved that you could use a pork loin to transmit a wireless signal. You read that right. You may be wondering why on earth this would be a legitimate study, not just an episode of MythBusters. It all comes down to the race to improve medical tools. Devices designed to be implanted in human flesh such as pace makers exist, but they can only use low power levels to transmit data, and they work using radio waves. The problem with this technology is that human tissue does not transmit radio waves well, and higher levels of radio waves are harmful, making interaction with these devices difficult.

Based on the idea that ultrasonic waves travel fast through water, Andrew Singer tested the rate of transmission through meat. The result? The connection is strong enough to stream high-quality video! At 30 megabits per second, ultrasonic waves travel hundreds of times faster than current technology is able to transmit radio waves through human bodies. If this technology becomes commonplace, it could help doctors take measurements without invasive surgeries. For example, applied to wireless endoscopy, swallowing a pill will allow doctors to view inside a patient’s digestive tract.

But there is still plenty of testing to be done. One pork loin will certainly not behave the same way a human heart or lung, let alone layers of tissue. In addition, we must be careful that we do not become reliant on such technology. Imagine if a wireless device were used as life support or a neural implant and the device crashes or needs a system update?

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