This autonomous electroencephalogram system, powered by body heat, is another interesting device developed by the IMEC, a Belgium/Netherlands nanotechnologies research center.
Here’s more about this prototype’s technology:
The entire system is wearable and integrated into a headband. The small size, low power consumption of only 0.8mW and autonomous operation increase the patient’s autonomy and quality of life. Potential applications are detection of imbalance between the two halves of the brain, detection of certain kinds of brain trauma and monitoring of brain activity.
The EEG system uses IMEC’s proprietary ultra-low power biopotential readout ASIC to extract high-quality EEG signals with micro-power consumption. A low-power digital signal-processing block encodes the extracted EEG data which is sent to a PC via a 2.4GHz wireless radio. The whole system consumes only 0.8mW.
The thermoelectric generator is mounted on the forehead and converts the heat flow between the skin and air into electrical power. The generator is composed of 10 thermoelectric units interconnected in a flexible way. At room temperature, the generated power is about 2-2.5mW or 0.03mW/cm2 which is the theoretical limit of power generation on human skin. Higher power generation would cause an uncomfortable sense of cold. The EEG system is operational in less than one minute after switching on the device.
Future research targets further reduction of the power consumption of the different system components including the radio and processor. Also, a semiconductor process for manufacturing thermopiles is under development. This will allow a significant reduction of the production cost.