Scientists are hard at work trying to perfect sugar-cube-sized magnetic sensors that monitor brain activity, according to a story in The New York Times Sunday.
The article describes the work doing done at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology by researcher Svenja Knappe in Boulder, Colo. They are testing prototypes for small, inexpensive magnetic sensors that use optical, or atomic, magnetometry, according to The Times.
There are a variety of uses for these sensors once they are perfected. For example, they could be used inside football helmets to read an athlete’s brain waves, and hence determine if she or he have suffered a concussion, The Times reported.
Or these devices could be used as an interface to enable brain waves to move prosthetic limbs, according to The Times. Then again, reading brain waves could be a way to diagnose, or mark the progress of, diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Optical magnetomety technology is already in use in the medical field, to track the magnetic field of a heart, The Times reported. That’s being done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.