Scientists wirelessly transmit high-speed data through, um, pork loin

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used ultrasound to transmit high-speed data through pork loin and beef liver. Why? They're developing a system for controlling wireless medical implants and also stream high-definition video from inside the body.

"You can imagine a device that is swallowed for the purposes of imaging the digestive tract but with the capability for the HD video to be continuously streamed live to an external screen and the orientation of the device controlled wirelessly and externally by the physician," says engineering professor Andrew Singer.

Singer and his colleagues posted their results on arXiv in a paper titled "Mbps Experimental Acoustic Through-Tissue Communications: MEAT-COMMS."

“To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has ever sent such high data rates through animal tissue,” Singer said. “These data rates are sufficient to allow real-time streaming of high definition video, enough to watch Netflix, for example, and to operate and control small devices within the body.”

That's a whole new spin on dinner and a movie.

(Engineering at Illinois) viewphoto.aspx

Notable Replies

  1. Sounds like a nutritionist would prescribe a diet higher in fiber for optimal data streaming and digestion.

    Netflix and butchers' freezer? Well-chilled, indeed.

  2. Neat.
    I didn't see mention of the bandwidth they were getting (though there's mention of "HD Video" which is still quite a range).

    Speaking of weird data-transfer research:
    I recall hearing that back in the day (70's?) BB&N developed tech to allow the transmission of data from a drill-head to the surface of the hole using the drill mud as a transmission medium.

  3. LDoBe says:

    Water absorbs most radio frequencies that we commonly use for high speed data. Also, radio generates heat when absorbed by water. Also, it might be possible that ultrasound is just more efficient for the application. Additionally there could be concerns about EMF interference caused by the comms to the bot. There's a lot of sensitive equipment in operating rooms, and we don't want to make, say, a heart-lung machine stop working.

  4. Bobo says:

    Well, if you consider just how much data is encoded in a single strand of DNA, I'm betting that every male here on BB has "transmitted" considerably larger data packets through their loins than the pig loin noted in this experiment.

    (sorry... I knew it was bad. It was just too hard to resist the joke.)

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