Sunday, April 22, 2007

May the force be with you

Magnetic and capacitive coupling techniques for wireless communications have been gaining traction in medical devices. The latest example comes from the William Demant group that showed hearing aids using magnetic coupling to link to each other or to a bridge device that uses Bluetooth to connect the hearing aids to cellphone and MP3 players. (My EE Times story on the topic should appear here sometime Monday.)

There's still a fair amount of secret sauce in these approaches also used by med electronics giants like Medtronic. I have yet to hear of anyone today pushing for a standard or merchant silicon in this sector.

For a time startup Aura Communications tried to bring this technology directly to consumer systems, but they have fallen off the radar screen. Ditto the Proximity interconnect Sun Microsystems was developing for chip-to-chip links for a prototype supercomputer until it lost federal funding. Perhaps it's time to look at this approach again.

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