FCC OKs on-body medical networks

The agency passed rules for wireless systems that can stimulate paralyzed limbs

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission adopted rules at a meeting on Wednesday to allow wireless networks of microstimulators designed to treat paralysis and other conditions.

The agency approved the use of MMNs (medical micropower networks) in four blocks of the 400MHz spectrum band despite opposition from broadcast engineers who say they are concerned about interference. One of the frequency blocks is used by trucks that send live media reports back to TV and radio stations.

Microstimulators implanted next to nerves can stimulate those nerves through electrical charges, causing muscles to contract and limbs to move. MMNs can link dozens of those stimulators to devices that take in signals from the human nervous system, bypassing areas of the nervous system that have been impaired by strokes or spinal cord or brain injuries.

The Alfred Mann Foundation (AMF), which has developed prototype MMNs, sought access to the spectrum for these systems in 2009. It did not seek exclusive access to the frequencies and said the new networks could coexist with other users. In a press release on Wednesday, the FCC called the new rules an example of how "spectrum-agile" radios can make more efficient use of scarce spectrum.

In a related development, the agency's Office of Engineering and Technology issued an order allowing Second Sight Medical Products to sell a retinal prosthesis that uses wireless transmissions to restore sight to the blind through a miniature video camera mounted on a pair of glasses. The camera sends images to a video processing unit, and the video is then sent wirelessly to a neurostimulator implanted on the eye. It is designed for people with advanced retinal degenerative disease.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags governmentmobileregulationwirelessNetworkingindustry verticalshealth careU.S. Federal Communications CommissionAlfred Mann FoundationSecond Sight Medical Products

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?