Human Intranet

Human Intranet


With the explosive growth of the ”smart” society, enormous amounts of information are instantaneously available in the enhanced world around us, or the cyberworld beyond. Hence one may wonder if the traditional human input/output modalities have the necessary bandwidth or expressiveness to effectively deal with the increasing pace of an “augmented world”.  One possible answer is to use the same technology advances that have enabled the “sensory swarm” to change, enhance or augment the way humans interact with the world around it and the cyberworld beyond, as well as their fellow human beings and themselves. Envision a “Human Intranet” [Ra15] that harvests the capabilities of all the devices we carry around us, on us, or inside us, to create a single open and integrated platform, opening the door for true innovation and creativity. This platform could help to address how us humans deal with an ever-smarter world, introspect on how well we are functioning ourselves, or even extend our capabilities. While truly exciting from an opportunity perspective, it also raises many questions such as privacy, safety and ethics.


Develop a first-generation Human Intranet, tightly interacting and operating in symbiosis with the human body, providing instantaneous and detailed insights into the dynamic operation of the body, and allowing for direct feedback in closed loop format. Propose, experiment and validate novel operational modalities and human-world applications enabled by the Human Intranet platform.

Research Center Topics:

Learning-based feedback systems - Pieter Abbeel
Flexible and wearable devices ; Energy storage - Ana Arias 
Brain-Machine interfaces - Jose Carmena
Scenarios and applications - Bjoern Hartmann
Motosensory interfaces; Energy harvesting - Michel Maharbiz 
Biomedical interfaces - Rikky Muller 
Low energy wireless - Ali Niknejad
Wearable technologies - Eric Paulos 
Integrated wearable sensor motes - Kris Pister
Networking and closed loop feedback systems; low-energy devices - Jan Rabaey 



A Real-Time Intraoperative Fluorescence Imager for Microscopic Residual Tumor

No method currently exists to identify small clusters of 100s or 1000s of cancer cells during cancer surgery. A main limiting factor is the traditional optics used in fluorescence imaging cannot be miniaturized to the size necessary to fit inside a tumor cavity. We have developed an imaging strategy that forgoes external optical elements for focusing light and instead uses angle-selective gratings patterned in the metal interconnect of a standard CMOS process. With the optics miniaturized to the chip-scale, only a 15 μm amorphous silicon optical wavelength filter patterned on the chip is...

An EMG Gesture Recognition System with Flexible High-Density Sensors and Brain-Inspired High-Dimensional Classifier

EMG-based gesture recognition shows promise for human-machine interaction. Systems are often afflicted by signal and electrode variability which degrades performance over time. We present an end-to-end system combating this variability using a large-area, high-density sensor array and a robust classification algorithm. EMG electrodes are fabricated on a flexible substrate and interfaced to a custom wireless device for 64-channel signal acquisition and streaming. We use brain-inspired high-dimensional (HD) computing for processing EMG features in one-shot learning. The HD algorithm is...

An Implantable Microsensor for Cancer Surveillance

We aim to create an implantable dosimeter for the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory’s proton beam therapy treatment. Currently, there is no closed loop solution to verify the dose treated to a specific in vivo location. By using ultrasound as a communication platform, we aim to enable real time in vivo dose readings to physicians. This can lead to better-localized irradiation treatment of cancer, and minimize irradiation to vital, healthy tissues.

Autonomous Flying Microrobots

Among the state of the art academic research on pico air vehicles, the majority has focused on biomimetic flight mechanisms (e.g. flapping wings). This project looks to develop a new microfabricated transduction mechanism for flying microrobots with the goal of opening up the application space beyond that allowed by the industry-standard quadcoptor. The proposed mechanism, electrohydrodynamic (EHD) force generated via sub-millimeter corona discharge, functions silently and with no moving parts, directly converting ion current to induced air flow. Microfabricated silicon electrodes...

Fabrication and Microassembly of a High-Density Carbon Fiber Neural Recording Array

We present a 32-channel carbon fiber monofilament-based intracortical neural recording array fabricated through a combination of bulk silicon microfabrication processing and microassembly. This device represents the first truly two-dimensional carbon fiber neural recording array. The five-micron diameter fibers are spaced at a pitch of 38 microns, four times denser than the state of the art one-dimensional arrays. The fine diameter of the carbon fiber microwires affords both minimal cross-section and nearly three orders of magnitude greater lateral compliance than standard tungsten...

Miniature Autonomous Rockets

Pico air vehicles (PAVs), sub-5cm aerial vehicles, are becoming more feasible due to advances in wireless mesh networks, millimeter-scale propulsion, battery technology, and MEMS control surfaces. Our goal is to develop an aerodynamic MEMS control surface that could be used in PAV applications. This device uses electrostatic inchworm motors to rotate a thin silicon fin 10 degrees. We measured 1.6 uNm of output torque generated by the actuator. In order to determine the aerodynamic performance of the device, we integrated the control surface into a force-sensing platform and operated...

Walking Silicon Microrobots

This project focuses on developing a new generation of sub-centimeter MEMS based walking robots. These robots are based on electrostatic actuators driving planar silicon linkages, all fabricated in the device layer of a silicon-on- insulator (SOI) wafer. By using electrostatic actuation, these legs have the advantage of being low power compared to other microrobot leg designs. This is key to granting the robot autonomy through low-power energy harvesting. The ultimate goal will be to join these silicon legs with a CMOS brain, battery power, a high voltage power source, and high...

Projects by Faculty:

Applications of Wireless Sensor Networks

As the size, cost, power, and communication latency of wireless sensor nodes continues to decrease, wireless sensor networks have the potential to be used in a variety of new and interesting ways. In this project we aim to demonstrate applications and use cases that are possible with small, low power, and low latency networks; for example, collecting high- resolution personal telemetry via products with embedded sensor networks, networked autonomous robotic systems, smart buildings, and industrial process control. While this project utilizes custom 15mmx15mm wireless sensor nodes,...

Impedance Spectroscopy Sensor to Monitor Bone Fracture Healing

An estimated 15 million fracture injuries occur each year in the United States, of which up to 20% result in delayed or non-union. Current methods of monitoring include taking X-rays and making clinical observations, but radiographic techniques lag and physician examination of injury is fraught with subjectivity. There is a lack of consensus in how to assess the extent of healing that has taken place in a fracture, revealing the need for a diagnostic device that can reliably detect non-union in its early pathologic phases. Electrical impedance spectroscopy has been used to characterize...

MEMS Filament Motors

Pushup, walking, jumping, and flying microrobots have been demonstrated. Other previous work has demonstrated microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) capable of creating silicon silk, as well as microrobots capable of assembling millimeter scale carbon fibers. However, microrobots capable of manipulating very small diameter filaments, fibers, and wires initially external to themselves is still an area of open research. We have successfully demonstrated a silicon-on- insulator (SOI) MEMS device pushing a 7 um diameter carbon filament through an adjustable width channel at a speed...

Zero Insertion Force MEMS Socket for Microrobotics Assembly

To help resolve the control and power challenges present in developing micro robots, the research focus of this project is the design and development of a ZIF (zero insertion force) MEMS socket. The ultimate goal is to achieve electrical connection between a 65nm single-chip mote and a multi-legged SOI micro robot. As proof of concept, the most recent socket prototype has demonstrated successful connection to a MEMS motor chiplet, which is orthogonal to the socket. Both chiplets were fabricated using a two-mask SOI (silicon- on- insulator) process. The socket uses probes to precisely...

Design of a MEMS Swimming Robot

This project is dedicated towards the design of a MEMS swimming robot capable of locomotion in liquid media. Some project goals include 1) characterizing individual mechanisms in aqueous environments, 2) integrating mechanisms to achieve swimming motion, and 3) identifying possible power sources.

Jumping Silicon Microrobots

This project aims to create millimeter-scale MEMS-based jumping robots. These microrobots can be used in applications ranging from mobile sensor networks to planetary exploration. By using a simple two-mask Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) fabrication process, planar mechanisms are easily integrated with electrostatic actuators. These electrostatic motors do mechanical work on a shuttle to store mechanical energy via the bending and stretching of silicon springs. Once a sufficient amount of energy has been stored, the motors release the stored energy and the microrobot can jump. An added...

Single Chip Mote

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a natural evolution of computing. CMOS technology enabled the network of computers that provided a platform for creating social networks. We are just seeing the early stages of another transition point in technology and entering into a new era where computing, sensing, and communication is essentially becoming disposable. The microsystem serves as a platform that allows us to embed wireless connectivity into everyday objects or serves as a brain for walking and flying microrobots. The lifetime, robustness, profile, and cost of these microsystems play a...