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Nanoelectronic device performs real-time AI classification without relying on the cloud

Published in Artificial Intelligence, Tech News.

Forget the cloud. Northwestern University engineers have developed a new nanoelectronic device that can perform accurate machine-learning classification tasks in the most energy-efficient manner yet. Using 100-fold less energy than current technologies, the device can crunch large amounts of data and perform artificial intelligence (AI) tasks in real time without beaming data to the cloud for analysis.

With its tiny footprint, ultra-low power consumption and lack of lag time to receive analyses, the device is ideal for direct incorporation into wearable electronics (like smart watches and fitness trackers) for real-time data processing and near-instant diagnostics.

To test the concept, engineers used the device to classify large amounts of information from publicly available electrocardiogram (ECG) datasets. Not only could the device efficiently and correctly identify an irregular heartbeat, it also was able to determine the arrhythmia subtype from among six different categories with near 95% accuracy.

The study, “Reconfigurable mixed-kernel heterojunction transistors for personalized support vector machine classification,” was published on Oct. 12 in the journal Nature Electronics.

“Today, most sensors collect data and then send it to the cloud, where the analysis occurs on energy-hungry servers before the results are finally sent back to the user,” said Northwestern’s Mark C. Hersam, the study’s senior author. “This approach is incredibly expensive, consumes significant energy and adds a time delay. Our device is so energy efficient that it can be deployed directly in wearable electronics for real-time detection and data processing, enabling more rapid intervention for health emergencies.”