‘Interscatter’ tech opens new data frontiers

Image: 'Interscatter' contact lens
University of Washington researcher Vikram Iyer holds up a contact lens that’s been fitted with interscatter electronics. (Credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington)

Contact lenses and brain implants that can transmit data may sound like science-fiction gizmos  but researchers at the University of Washington are turning them into science fact, thanks to a technological trick they call interscatter communication.

The technology relies on super-low-power devices that can reflect wireless transmissions such as Bluetooth signals, transforming them into data-carrying Wi-Fi signals in the process.

Such devices require mere millionths of a watt to work, and can be shrunk down to the size of a computer chip. The technique is described in a paper to be presented next week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGCOMM 2016 conference in Brazil.

The researchers developed interscatterers shaped like contact lenses and brain implants as test cases.

“Wireless connectivity for implanted devices can transform how we manage chronic diseases,” Vikram Iyer, a UW electrical engineering doctoral student, said today in a news release. “For example, a contact lens could monitor a diabetics blood sugar level in tears and send notifications to the phone when the blood sugar level goes down.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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