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Move over, “Fantastic Voyage”. Scientists at the University at Buffalo (UB), Buffalo, NY, are developing miniaturized sonar technology to be used inside the human body to treat diseases like diabetes and heart failure in real time, without shrinking scientists to enter a patient’s bloodstream.

The advancement relies on sensors that use ultrasounds, the same inaudible sound waves used by the navy and doctors for sonograms, to wirelessly share information between medical devices implanted in or worn by people.

Previous research into linking sensors together focused on using electromagnetic radio frequency waves, like those used in cellular phones, but radio waves propagate poorly through skin, muscle and other body tissue, generate considerable amounts of heat, and require large amounts of energy.

Ultrasounds may be a more efficient way to share information, the researchers say, since the human body is largely composed of water. This suggests that medical devices, such as a pacemaker and an instrument that measures blood oxygen levels, could communicate more effectively via ultrasounds compared to radio waves.

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