Fruit flies low energy inspires researchers at Luleå University

Drosophila model for wireless biosensor

Fruit flyes nervous system inspires researcher Fredrik Sandin, Luleå University of Technology to develop the next generation of wireless sensors. They can be used eg for monitoring of machines, processes, medical applications, monitoring of plantations, roads, railways and represents a major technological revolution

Image: The researcher Fredrik Sandin, LTU
The researcher Fredrik Sandin working in the department EISLAB at Luleå University

- The impact of these developments on society, industry and daily life is expected to be comparable to the change that the Internet has brought, says Fredrik Sandin, researchers belonging to the Department EISLAB at Luleå University of Technology, which recently launched a 4-year research project.

Wireless sensor networks consisting of sensors, microcomputers and wireless communication via the Internet, which cooperate to enable the collection and analysis of information, is expected to revolutionize both industry and our everyday liv. En prerequisite for their effective functioning is low energyconsumption and this is where the fruit flies is interesting

- If you compare today's microprocessors with biological nervous systems, such as in fruit flies, you realize that they use a fraction of the energy needed for the technology to encode and analyze information, says Fredrik Sandin.

To enable large-scale systems it requires that the sensor units, for a long time is able to analyze the enormous amounts of data produced in the sensor network, without consuming large amounts of energy. Today, information is sent to a central computer that performs the analysis, which is energy intensive. The researchers' goal is to develop a so-called "neuromorfic" chip capable of encoding and processing the signals from the sensors in an extremely energy efficient way.

- We try to transfer the brain's calculation principles for a chip that simulates small nervoussystems, says Fredrik Sandin.

A neuromorfiskt chips can consume as little as a few tens of microwatts. It represents the power required to maintain current technology in power saveing mode.

The research project Bio-inspired computing and novel technology for networks of tiny wireless sensor divices is led by EISLAB at LTU. Prof. Jerker Delsing coordinates the project together with Fredrik Sandin. Monash University in Australia, the Institute of Neuro Informatics in Switzerland and PETRONAS University of Technology in Malaysia is also participating in the project, financed by STINT (Foundation for International Research and Higher Education)