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American university develops ultra-thin ‘computer on the bone’

It could someday help physicians monitor bone health and healing over long periods

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American university develops ultra-thin ‘computer on the bone’. Source: news.arizona.edu

A team of University of Arizona researchers has developed an ultra-thin wireless device that grows to the surface of the bone.

Although not yet tested or approved for use in humans, the wireless bone devices could one day be used not only to monitor health, but to improve it, said study co-senior author Philipp Gutruf, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and Craig M. Berge faculty fellow in the College of Engineering.

Being able to monitor the health of the musculoskeletal system is super important. With this interface, you basically have a computer on the bone. This technology platform allows us to create investigative tools for scientists to discover how the musculoskeletal system works and to use the information gathered to benefit recovery and therapy
Philipp Gutruf, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering

Because muscles are so close to bones and move so frequently, it is important that the device be thin enough to avoid irritating surrounding tissue or becoming dislodged, Gutruf explained.

The device's thin structure, roughly as thick as a sheet of paper, means it can conform to the curvature of the bone, forming a tight interface. They also do not need a battery. This is possible using a power casting and communication method called near-field communication, or NFC, which is also used in smartphones for contactless pay
Alex Burton, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering and co-first author of the study

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