The University of Michigan has announced that it has built a computer so small that it can be implanted in (or around?) the eye of Glaucoma patients to monitor eye pressure. If you’re not familiar with Glaucoma, it’s a disease that causes the pressure in the eye to damage the optic nerve. It can lead to permanent blindness, and it is often hard to monitor because it is (usually) painless. Described as a millimeter-scale computer, the device is about one cubic-millimeter big and consumes only 5.3 nanowatts. The computer has a solar cell that can keep it charged if it is exposed to 1.5 hours of sunlight, or 10 hours of indoor light. It typically wakes up every 15 minutes to measure the eye pressure and should be able to transmit the data wirelessly. This is much more accurate than what most patients get today: one check per week or month.
While Glaucoma is the subject of today’s research by this team, such tiny computers could be used as sensors for a lot of things. We’re not sure about what the computing power is, but it’s got to be really small. The sheer size and the potential is what’s amazing, and this is only the beginning…
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