CAREER: Towards Ultrasonic Networking for Implantable Biomedical Devices
Tommaso Melodia Principal Investigator
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Wirelessly networked systems of intra-body sensors and actuators could enable revolutionary applications with a strong potential to advance medical treatment of major diseases of our times. Yet, most research to date has focused on communications along the body surface among devices interconnected through traditional electromagnetic radio-frequency (RF) waves; while the key challenge of enabling networked intra-body miniaturized sensors and actuators that communicate through body tissues is substantially unaddressed. The main obstacle to enabling this vision is posed by the physical nature of propagation in the human body, which is composed primarily of water, a medium through which RF electromagnetic waves do not easily propagate. This project takes a different perspective and investigates for the first time the fundamentals of ultrasonic networking in human tissues through a closed-loop combination of mathematical modeling, simulation, and experimental evaluation. The project is investigating four intertwined research tasks, i.e, (i) ultrasonic channel modeling and capacity analysis; (ii) physical/medium access control layer solutions for ultrasonic communications; (iii) distributed and asynchronous cross-layer control and resource allocation algorithms based on stochastic modeling of ultrasonic interference; (iv) performance evaluation through a multi-scale simulator and a software-defined testbed.<br/><br/>The project will integrate research and education with the following core contributions: (i) establishment of a visiting scholar program with a focus on ultrasonic networking and its applications; (ii) establishment of a new graduate/undergraduate course on acoustic/ultrasonic networking, and development of a new textbook on this topic; (iii) a broad set of activities to reach out to underrepresented students; (iv) pursuit of technology transfer activities in this field. The project can lead to novel, safe and energy-efficient methods of communication between implanted medical devices and the outside world.