Director of Technology
Building the Plumbing
Alison Burdett, 42, developed the Sensium, a tiny chip-based wireless system for medical-device developers that is sold through Texas Instruments. It consumes up to 100 times less energy than other chips for wireless body-monitoring networks.
"If you look at pacemakers or even electronic watches, those devices use low levels of power, but they're able to perform only one specific function. The Sensium is an interface that lets developers create body-monitoring devices that are just as small but can do so much more, using orders of magnitude less power than Bluetooth or an Intel microprocessor. For example, Iraq war veterans are learning how to walk with prosthetic limbs using Sensium. They choose which sensors to plug into the platform, such as an accelerometer that measures range of motion. Then they can employ an application which converts that data into a visual representation of their walking posture. Generally, when you want something customizable, you pay the penalty of burning up more power, but here users can customize the system depending on their particular needs, whether it's for clinical use or for sports and fitness."
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.